IPC Press Release: The International Paralympic Committee (IPC) has yesterday (29 October) announced that Stadskanaal, in north eastern Netherlands will host the 2012 IPC Athletics European Championships in June.Taking place between 24-27 June, the Championships will be the last major international event before the London 2012 Paralympic Games which open exactly two months after the conclusion of the Europeans. Set to feature around 500 athletes from 40 countries, the event is likely to see many big name athletes using it as preparation for London 2012, whilst others will be looking to secure vital qualification times ahead of the 5 August deadline.
It will be the third major IPC sporting event to be held in the Netherlands in the last six years after it successfully staged the 2006 IPC Athletics World Championships in Assen and the 2010 IPC Swimming World Championships in Eindhoven.
Ed Warner, Chairperson of the IPC Athletics Sport Technical Committee, said: “We are delighted that such a prestigious sporting event in the IPC Athletics calendar will take place in the Netherlands next year.
“I expect the level of competition next year to be fierce. The big name athletes who take part will aim to send a warning to their rivals ahead of London 2012, while other will be going flat-out to ensure they meet those all important Paralympic qualification standards.” Rita van Driel, Secretary General of NPC Netherlands and IPC Governing Board member, said: “This is a major coup for the Netherlands and underlines the country’s commitment and excellent track record in staging major Para-sport events.
“The Dutch Athletics Federation deserves a huge amount of credit for pulling this event off and I’d also like to thank the government for their continued support. “For it to happen in Paralympic year and so close to London 2012 will also ensure that the level of competition is extremely high and ultra-competitive.” Bert Eilliert, Chairman of the Local Organizing Committee, said: “Stadskanaal is no stranger to staging major Para-sport events and we are already looking forward to welcoming some of the world’s top athletes to the town next year.
“We aim to provide all those who attend, whether they be athletes, officials or members of the media with excellent hospitality to continue the Netherlands’ proud tradition of hosting successful Para-sport events.” In 2010 Stadskanaal staged the IWAS Athletics European Championships and last year the climax of the 2011 IWAS Athletics Series.
All athletes and officials attending the Europeans will be accommodated at Pagedal, a sports and leisure park situated close to the athletics stadium. Further details regarding the 2012 IPC Athletics European Championships, including qualification criteria, will be announced shortly.
2. IPC on the Look-out for Bid Cities for Three Major Events in 2013
The International Paralympic Committee (IPC), the global governing body of the Paralympic Movement, is inviting cities from across Europe to bid for three major sporting events in 2013. The first event is the 2013 IPC Shooting European Championships which is set to attract nearly 300 athletes and officials from a number of different countries.
Open to athletes from inside as well as outside of Europe, the Championships will be one of the largest international IPC Shooting events following the London 2012 Paralympic Games. In recent years the sport, which made its Paralympic Games debut in 1976 in Toronto, has enjoyed rapid growth and in 2010 the sport increased the number of licensed participants by 21% and is now practiced in nearly 60 countries.
Suhl, Germany staged the last European Championships in 2007 and in 2010 Zagreb, Croatia staged the IPC Shooting World Championships attracting nearly 250 athletes from 43 countries. The IPC is also looking out for a city to stage the 2013 IPC Power lifting European Championships, which like shooting, will be the biggest international event in the sport following the Paralympic Games.
A total of 275 athletes and officials are expected to attend the 7 day event which is likely to see competitors come close to lifting three times their body weight. More than 80 countries practice Power lifting worldwide and the number of licensed athletes grew by 16% in 2010. Last year Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia held the 2010 IPC Power lifting World Championships involving 292 athletes from 49 countries. In 2007 Kavala, Greece hosted the last European Championships.
The third event the IPC is inviting cities to bid for is the 2013 IPC Wheelchair Dance Sport European Championships which is likely to involve 225 athletes and officials. Although not part of the Paralympic Sport programme, Wheelchair Dance Sport has benefited significantly from the growth in popular TV dance shows and regularly attracts sell-out crowds.
Both days of competition at last year’s World Championships in Hannover, Germany were sold-out six months in advance of the event taking place. Practiced in 22 countries around the world, Europe is a hot bed of talent for the sport with athletes from the continent winning all 12 medals available in Hannover in 2010.
The sport involves athletes with a physical impairment that affects the lower limbs. Wheelchair dancers may participate in “combi”-style dancing with an able-bodied (standing) partner or duo-dance for two wheelchair users together.
3. New IPC Athletics Technical Officials Course Launched
International Paralympic Committee (IPC) Athletics and its education partner, the IPC Academy, has today (28 October) launched an online course designed to be the first step on a pathway for anyone considering becoming a Technical Official in the sport.
The course, which is a 15 to 24 hour online learning programme, aims to provide a point of entry to those looking to get involved in officiating IPC Athletics. It ensures those who the complete the course have a greater knowledge, skill-set and competence of what is expected as a Technical Official.
Developed in an easy to follow learning format, the course includes the most up-to-date description of the rules and uses footage from recent Paralympic Games to demonstrate and highlight learning outcomes together with interactive quizzes, animations, images and other features
In addition, the IPC Academy is developing a complete series of programmes to complete the pathway through competency assessed initiatives which will be delivered by experienced and certified educators. Chris Solly, Director of the IPC Academy, said: “It is a very important area for both sport performance and development to ensure that athletes are provided the best competition opportunities.
“To do this we have established a holistic training pathway for Technical Officials which ensures they are empowered to make correct decisions at events and be able to effectively communicate these decisions to athletes, coaches and the many other people involved in the sport.”
IPC Chief Executive Officer, Xavier Gonzalez added: “We have been working on structuring this pathway for some time now in order to ensure that we get it right. “Like athletes, technical officials only get one chance to get things right however, the impact of their decisions and projects can be long lasting.
“This pathway will be seen in future years as one of the beacons of success throughout the Paralympic Movement as it will improve Technical Officials at all levels.”
4. PARAPANS: Brazil’s Football 5-a-Side Team Top Pick for Gold
Prior to November’s Parapan American Games in Guadalajara, Mexico, the International Paralympic Committee (IPC) is counting down the top 10 story lines to watch. Today, Brazil’s Football 5-a-Side team comes in at No. 5. Jefferson da Conceicao Goncalves has come a long way since playing football alone in the streets as a child outside his home in Candeias, Brazil.
Born with glaucoma and completely blind by age 7, he began playing football at 10 and had his first call-up to Brazil’s Football 5-a-Side national team in 2006 before being selected to play in the Parapan American Games in 2007 and the Paralympic Games in 2008.
Today, at 22, “Jefinho,” as he is known, is recognized by the Brazilian public in the streets as a national star. He will definitely never be left to play football alone again. In fact, he is now surrounded by some of the world’s best.
“Our recent achievements are helping the development of the (sport). Sometimes, I go out and people recognize me. The media coverage has also been increasing,” Jefinho said of Brazil’s Football 5-a-Side squad. “Before, it was not like that. It started from 2004, and it’s been improving. We are showing people our talent.”
At the Parapan American Games in Guadalajara, Mexico, from 12-20 November, Jefinho and his teammates will be the favourites as the only squad to have ever won Paralympic gold in Football-5-a-Side. “We are looking forward to winning the gold again,” Jefinho said. “In 2007, playing at home, it was a great joy. Now, we hope to win again and help Brazil to lead the medals table.”
Since the beginning of this year, the Brazilians have spent periods of time training in Rio de Janeiro, and they will arrive in Guadalajara early so they can get acclimatized prior to the competition. While the team already qualified for the London 2012 Paralympic Games with a first-place finish at last year’s World Championships, it will still being going all out of gold against its main rival in Guadalajara.
And who may that be?
“Always Argentina,” Jefinho said, not hesitating in the least bit. “It has a great team, has great players and there is always a rivalry. They always play to beat us. “But there are other strong teams,” he added. “They will be fighting for the Paralympic spot. We are already qualified, but we want the gold. The other teams want the gold and the spot in London, so they will be very motivated.”
Argentina has won a silver and bronze at the last two Paralympics and finished seventh at last year’s World Championships. Colombia, meanwhile, finished sixth at the World Championships. Brazil would love to play the spoiler role more than anything.
And with Jefinho playing the right side and Ricardo “Ricardinho” Alves – the leader from the Beijing 2008 squad – playing the left, that possibility is highly probable. The pair’s five years of chemistry on the field is unparalleled in Football-5-a-Side, but whether they shine without a Paralympic Games qualification spot on the line remains to be seen.