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Commonwealth Games 2022: Making History for Para-Sports
Athletes are gearing up to take part in the Commonwealth Games 2022, due to take place from 28th July until 8th August. The international event, first held in 1930, is open to athletes from the Commonwealth nations. It takes place every four years. Unlike the Olympic Games, where the Paralympics are a separate sporting event held at a different time, the Commonwealth Games include the para-sport events as part of the main programme. The event’s motto is “Games for Everyone”. More than 5,000 athletes are scheduled to compete in the 2022 games, in 22 different sports. There are 136 events for women and 134 for men. Around 300 para-athletes will be competing in 42 events, up from 36. This will include the first wheelchair basketball tournament and para-table tennis championship in the history of the Commonwealth Games. This year’s event takes place at various venues around Birmingham including Alexander Stadium, Birmingham Arena, the NEC, Edgbaston Stadium, Sandwell Aquatics Centre and many more. When were para-sports integrated into the games? Para-sports haven’t always been integrated into the Commonwealth Games. In the past, the Commonwealth Paraplegic Games were held alongside the Commonwealth Games from 1962. In the first event, 93 athletes from nine nations competed in 14 para-sports including archery, the javelin, swimming, weightlifting and more. Athletes with a disability were first invited to take part in exhibition events at the 1994 Commonwealth Games in Victoria, Canada. As the first international all-inclusive sports event, Paralympic events have been included on the official Commonwealth Games programme since the Manchester games in 2002. This year’s Commonwealth Games has the largest para-sports programme in history. How many para-athletes compete for Team England? There are 21 para-athletes in Team England, including some who have enjoyed previous Paralympic and Commonwealth Games success – wheelchair racers David Weir and Hannah Cockroft and sprinter Ola Abidogun. A number of Team England members have cerebral palsy. The condition can affect a person’s motor skills, muscle control, co-ordination, posture and cognitive abilities. In years gone by, many people with cerebral palsy felt excluded from sports. Today, sporting events are increasingly inclusive for everyone and there are several Team England para-athletes who have cerebral palsy at this summer’s games. Karé Adenegan, 21, is a wheelchair racer specialising in sprint distances. She won the BBC Young Sports Personality of the Year award in 2018. In 2016, aged 15, she won a silver medal and two bronze at the Summer Paralympics. She set a new world record in the T34 100 metres in 2018, with a time of 16.8 seconds, at the Müller Anniversary Games in London. Fabienne André, 25, also a wheelchair racer, was chosen to compete in the T34 100 metres and 800 metres as a member of the Paralympics GB team at the 2020 Summer Paralympics in Tokyo. Prior to this, she was a swimmer and won three swimming medals at the 2018 Cerebral Palsy games in Barcelona. Hetty Bartlett, 31, is representing Team England for the first time. A long jumper usually, she will be competing in the 100-metre sprint at the games, as there isn’t a long jump event. Shaun Burrows is an experienced Paralympian wheelchair racer, who has been competing regularly since 2014. Representing Team England in the T38 400 metres sprint event at the Commonwealth Games, he has cerebral palsy as a result of a brain injury. The 24-year-old won a bronze medal for the 400m at the Para World Championships in 2015. He has fought back from a serious hamstring injury in 2018 to take his place at the games. Sophie Hahn MBE, a 25-year-old who competes mainly in T38 sprint events, began taking part in athletics when she was 15 after watching the 2012 Olympic Games in London. She won the gold medal in the T38 100 metres event at the 2018 Commonwealth Games. She is the first female track and field athlete to win gold in the same event at the Commonwealth Games, World Championships, European Championships and Paralympic Games. How many people have cerebral palsy? Around one in 400 people in the UK have cerebral palsy, which is a lifelong condition affecting muscle control and movement. It can result in an accelerated loss of mobility with age, more fatigue and greater joint and muscle pain. People with cerebral palsy can also experience sleeping problems, including falling asleep and sleeping soundly, due to seizures, pain and respiratory problems. They may require specialist sleeping solutions to help them get a good night’s sleep. Many people with cerebral palsy have reported feeling isolated and excluded from activities such as sports. This can impact on their well-being and self-confidence. As a result, the UK’s leading disabled sports organisation, Cerebral Palsy Sport, organised CP Awareness Month in March 2020. The event celebrated 20 years of the charity’s work to make sports inclusive for everyone. Having traditionally been more likely to encounter barriers preventing them from accessing sports, people with cerebral palsy have been made to feel marginalised and isolated. CP Sport is addressing these issues by enabling them to take part in a range of adapted activities to improve their skills and well-being and to maximise their potential.

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