Wheelchair Rugby in danger of pulling out for Tokyo 2020

By Joe Hewlett

The future of WheelChair Rugby has been plunged into doubt after UK Sport recently confirmed funding cuts to the sport.

After the decision to give no funding, Great Britain Wheelchair Rugby (GBWR) is still dealing with the news ahead of their preparations to compete at the Tokyo 2020 Paralympics.

Wheelchair Rugby executive David Pond shared his frustrations exclusively with Yorkshire Voice.

He said:  “I have no confidence in the representation process. It is clear to me that there are a team of faceless number crunchers behind the workings of UK Sport who use analysis models which may be suited to both individual sports and able bodied sport but have no application at all to team sports whose athletes have a wide range of impairments.

“We are the fastest growing Paralympic sport in this country, going from seven to 22 clubs in five years. An extraordinary success, which has been recognised by Sport England which has awarded £1.2 m for us to build on this over the next four years.  The challenge will be to attract and keep talented athletes who may be able to gain a better chance of Paralympic representation in a different sport.”

Unless GBWR can find alternative ways of getting up to £3m, the future looks bleak for the sport. As well as the implications to their hopes of winning a medal in Tokyo, the signs also look worrying on participation.

Disability Action Yorkshire is a charity creating opportunities for disabled people and help to offer the lifestyle they want.

Chief executive Jackie Snape also revealed her disappointment: “It’s a real shame that the decision has been taken not to fund the Team GB wheelchair rugby team for Tokyo 2020.  It looks like a catch 22 situation with the funding being withdrawn because of the lack of medals previously, yet with no funding it will be difficult for the team to progress.”

“Disabled people are still half as likely as non-disabled people to participate in sporting activities. As a nation we should be doing all we can to ensure that the opportunities are there for everyone, and that we positively promote inclusive, accessible sport,” she added.

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