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Disability Sport Wales and Welsh Paralympic athletes launch the Para Sport Festival in Swansea

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Disability Sport Wales is excited to announce the addition of the Para Sport Festival to the Welsh events calendar – which was launched on Friday 4th March at a ceremony in Swansea.

Starting off with a Disability Sport Wales insport event at Swansea University on 1 August 2022, the event will bring 5,000 participation opportunities across the festival including five competitive events at different venues.

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Cumulating on the following weekend, the Para Sport Festival will add to the festival atmosphere around Swansea over the 6/7 August weekend, alongside the World Para Series Triathlon and Ironman 70.3 Swansea.

The delivery model is innovative in its combination of three independent but interconnected events and provides a tangible connection between grassroots involvement in activity through to competitive opportunity and elite para and non-para performance through the already confirmed partner events.

Co-ordinated by Disability Sport Wales, the Para Sport Festival has been developed by a network of key stakeholders, including Welsh Government, Swansea Council, a number of Welsh and British national governing bodies of sport and local insport clubs aiming to deliver high-quality accessible opportunities for disabled children, young people and adults.

There will be two components to the Para Sport Festival – an insport Series event and at least five competitive events hosted by individual Welsh and British national governing bodies of sport.

Ultimately the three-year programme will grow the range and level of opportunity and competition provided and establish a template for other world-class events which will inspire aspiration, stimulate awareness and attract local and visitor interest associated with the Para Sport Festival in addition to that which will already be present for the World Para Series Triathlon and Ironman 70.3 Swansea events.

There is incredible scope to add to the range of sports, classifications and events within both components of the PSF, ensuring the inclusion of opportunity and competition across multiple impairment groups.

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Dawn Bowden, Welsh Government Deputy Minister for Arts and Sport, said: “I’m delighted that we’re able to support Disability Sport Wales in bringing this event to Swansea and that the city will, once again, get a chance to demonstrate its expertise in successfully hosting a major para sport event – following on from the city’s successful hosting of the 2014 IPC Athletics European Championship.

“This reaffirms our commitment to the development of disability sport with the event and the Para Sport Festival providing a further platform to promote sporting opportunities for disabled people. The event also makes the most of the city’s fantastic waterfront location – and we look forward to welcoming the athletes to Wales and Swansea next year.”

Cllr Robert Francis-Davies, Cabinet Member for Investment, Regeneration and Tourism for Swansea Council said: “Swansea has always enjoyed a strong reputation as an inclusive multi-sport destination and we’re proud to have been home to para sport champions and top sports events over the years.

“The Para Sport Festival will be welcomed across our communities and will help highlight the opportunities and disability sport provision on offer in Swansea. We’re also confident it will inspire a new generation of athletes wanting to be the best they can be at their chosen sport.

“That’s why we are thrilled that this is a three-year programme including both grass-root participation opportunities and competitor events, ensuring growth in the sports and providing a legacy.

“The Para Sport Festival, the World Triathlon Para Series and Ironman 70.3 will contribute to what is already going to be a great summer of events in Swansea and we look forward to welcoming athletes, their families and supporters to the city in August.”

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Tom Rogers, Disability Sport Wales Partnership Manager, said: “The aspirations for this Para Sport Festival are focused on developing a genuine legacy of both participation and competitive opportunities for disabled people in Swansea.

“Working alongside a wide range of key stakeholders we are aiming to highlight the wide range of possibilities for disabled people in Wales, while highlighting Swansea as a go-to city for the provision of grassroots, performance development and elite para and disability sport provision.

“We are pleased to announce that the Para Sport Festival events programme will include opportunities across a number of Paralympic and non-Paralympic sports and we are delighted to be working alongside Welsh Triathlon, Welsh Target Shooting Federation, Great Britain Wheelchair Rugby, Welsh Rugby Union, Wales Deaf Rugby Union, and Basketball Wales to bring together a festival of competitive para sport to Swansea.

“The Para Sport Festival as a whole is an excellent opportunity to showcase the first-class opportunities available in Swansea to a greater audience, and to give us a fantastic platform to build over the initial three-year period.”

Attending an insport event can be a life-changing experience, as Beth Munro can testify.

She attended a Disability Sport Wales insport event in 2019, where she was introduced to taekwondo.

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Just two years later Beth won a silver medal at the Paralympic Games in Tokyo!

Beth Munro

Beth Munro said: “To go from trying taekwondo for the first time at an insport event in November 2019 and becoming a silver medal-winning Paralympic athlete less than two years later in 2021 still blows my mind! It was a new sport to the Paralympic Games and I made history at day and it’s truly amazing.

“I’m super proud of myself and I’m proud of the individuals around me who have supported me through it. DSW started the journey. Anthony Hughes, I’m going to give him a shout out again because he’s a fantastic man!

“Taekwondo Cymru led the way, and I couldn’t have done it without GB Taekwondo as well – and together hopefully I will continue to rise and win gold at the 2024 Paralympic Games in Paris.

“This dream was always on my Bucket List, but under the heading ‘impossible.’ But nothing is impossible because I have the medal to prove it!

“The fact that I am now a role model to young people and young women, to empower them, to be elite sportswomen in the future is the reason why I will continue the legacy for as long as I can.”

(All images: Swansea Council)

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Cycling

Minister announces £50m investment to encourage cycle use

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Getting people out of cars and on to bikes is the aim of a £50m investment announced by Deputy Climate Change Minister Lee Waters.

Speaking on a visit to Cardiff-based cycling charity Pedal Power, the Deputy Minister said the money would fund cycling routes and new facilities right across Wales.

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Deputy Minister for Climate Change, with a responsibility for Transport, Lee Waters said: “This is a substantial investment and part of our commitment to making cycling easier so people cut the amount of journeys they take by car and travel in a way that is better for our planet.

“Getting people out of cars for short journeys and encouraging them to walk or cycle instead is a huge challenge for us, but one that has to be met if we are to reach our net zero carbon emission target by 2050.

“We need to make sure that we have the right infrastructure and routes in place so that people have the choice of cycling for their everyday journeys – we need to make the right thing to do, the easy thing to do.”

One organisation that is benefiting from this investment is Pedal Power in South Wales.

As part of a series of Welsh Government e-bike pilot schemes, the cycling charity received £0.21m for its ‘See Cycling Differently’ project which is aimed at increasing the inclusivity of cycling by offering a range of e-cycles.

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Thanks to the money received the charity has expanded its e-cycle fleet and is encouraging its users to cycle more.  

Jeff Mayle, Pedal Power use and Deputy Minister Lee Waters

Director of Pedal Power, Cardiff, Sian Donovan said: “Cycling is a fantastic way for everyone – all ages and abilities – to have fun, gain more independence and enjoy a sense of freedom which we know has provided a lifeline to many during the pandemic.

“We were delighted to receive funding from the Welsh Government to help us to continue to remove barriers to cycling so that it can be truly accessible and inclusive for all.”

As part of the investment announced today, all local authorities will receive a minimum of £500k with additional allocations having been awarded based on the outcome of a competitive application process.

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Carmarthenshire

Women’s Tour of Britain returns to Carmarthenshire

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The countdown is on before the world’s top women riders will race through Carmarthenshire as part of the Women’s Tour of Britain.

Some 108 cyclists will race through the County to the finishing line on top of the Black Mountain between Llangadog and Brynamman as part of the stage five event on Friday, June 10.

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The route will be starting from Pembrey Country Park at 10.45am and riders competing for the title will go through Pinged, Carway, Pontyberem, Horeb, Llansawel, and Llangadog.

A rolling road closure will take place along the 65-mile route which will come into action at 10.45am until 1.50pm.

Roads will be re-opened once the cyclists have passed through. A full road closure will be in place over the Black Mountain from 5am-5pm.

The event will be broadcast on ITV4 and across Europe with a helicopter camera crew following the race.

The Women’s Tour departs on Monday, June 6, and coincides with the final day of a four-day Bank Holiday weekend in the UK to celebrate Queen Elizabeth II’s Platinum Jubilee. The race will culminate with a prestigious finale six days later on Saturday, June 11.

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Pembrey Country Park previously hosted the Grand Départ of the men’s Tour of Britain as well as the overall finish of the Women’s Tour in 2019.

Carmarthenshire County Council’s Chief Executive, Wendy Walters said: “We are thrilled that we have again been chosen to host this top cycling event. Previous years have brought an immediate economic boost to the tourism sector as well as providing a great deal of positive media coverage.”

(Lead image: Carmarthenshire Council)

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Sport

West Wales accountancy firm sponsors local triathlete in his bid to become a champion Ironman

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Accountancy firm Ashmole & Co are to sponsor local tri-athlete Andrew Horsfall-Turner this year as he aims to fulfil his dream of becoming the first British professional male to win at the Ironman World Championships in Kona, Hawaii.

Andrew, from Swansea, is part of a new generation of up-and-coming Ironman athletes who are ready to challenge the status quo and change the dynamics of the event. He took up Triathlon in 2018 after competing as an elite swimmer for many years. In his first Ironman competition, in 2019 he qualified for Kona as an Age Group athlete.

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Andrew in training

Jim Cornock, Partner with Ashmole & Co and an Ironman himself said, “It is a pleasure to be able to sponsor Andrew in his bid to become a champion Ironman. It is a fantastic achievement to be able to compete at such a high level in such a demanding mixture of events and we wish him all the luck with his forthcoming championships. As a local business we are always happy to support local sports teams and individuals to help them achieve their goals.”

Last year Andrew took on the Outlaw Triathlon events, the first in June at Outlaw Half Nottingham, he qualified for his Professional Racing License. He went on to break the Ironman Distance Welsh Record when winning Outlaw Full in July.

In 2022 Andrew looks to take on the Professional Ironman circuit where the aspiration is to gain qualification to the Ironman World Championships. Within the next five years he aims to contend for the Ironman World Championships title.

Andrew said, “I am so grateful to Ashmole & Co for supporting me. Without sponsorship it is impossible to compete at this level. It would be great to get the backing of other local companies looking to support an athlete as well. Please follow my journey towards an Ironman title on Instagram.”

Andrew will also be competing in the inaugural IRONMAN 70.3 Swansea triathlon will take place on Sunday, August 7, 2022.

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Athletes participating in IRONMAN 70.3 Swansea will take on a 1.2-mile (1.9km) swim at the Prince of Wales Dock before cycling a one-loop 56-mile (90km) bike course.

Athletes will cycle through the Mumbles along roads that hug the Gower’s coastal clifftops before cycling out through Rural Swansea before heading back along Swansea Bay into the city.

From here they will return to Swansea as they prepare for transition in the Maritime Quarter beside the Rive Tawe.

Lastly, athletes will take on a 13.1-mile (21.1km) two loop run course which takes them from the city centre, out past the new eye-catching gold-coloured Swansea Arena, towards Mumbles before heading back towards the finish line at the Marina.

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