The Talented Athlete Scholarship Scheme (TASS) is a Government funded programme that represents a unique partnership between talented young athletes, National Governing Bodies of Sport and the Higher (University) and Further (college/school) Education sector. TASS Project Manager Colin Allen tells us about his experience on a recent trip with young athletes from Great Britain competing in Brazil’s School Games.
Last week saw the team of 25 elite young disabled athletes from Great Britain return to London Heathrow following a very successful trip to compete in the Paralimpiadas Escolares de 2013, a major multi-sport event in Brazil for promising school age competitors. The event took place in São Paulo between 26 and 30 November and saw over 1,200 competitors from across the 27 regions of Brazil compete in 10 sports.
The GB team was invited to compete at the event by the Brazilian Paralympic Committee, building on the close links and the School Games exchange programme that has been formed between the countries due to their common interests as host nations of the Olympic and Paralympic Games.
It was a pleasure to take some of our best young disabled athletes to Brazil so they could experience an international multi-sport competition. The majority that travelled have high hopes of representing their country at the 2016 Paralympics in Rio so this provided a useful taste of what it may be like in a few years time. This was a fantastic opportunity for the team and I am sure that these experiences will enhance the development of their future careers as elite athletes.
It was great to see the so much success for all of the GB team. The CP football team won the gold medal and proved that an England/GB team can win a penalty shoot-out along the way! On the boccia courts it was an all GB affair in the finals of both the BC3 and BC4 classifications. Our swimmers dominated in the pool all week winning 20 medals between them and the goalball team, who were unfortunately knocked out at the quarter-final stage, won an exhibition match against a Brazilian select team.
The final medal table at the Paralimpiadas Escolares shows the School Games GB team came 10th with 21 gold, 3 silver and 1 bronze medal. The result is no mean feat given that the team only competed in four of the 10 sports available and is an achievement that the whole team can be proud of!
The trip was not just about achieving performance targets and the athletes were able to experience the vibrant and passionate Brazilian culture. Bus journeys to competition venues were filled with songs, dancing at ceremonies and the GB team even had the opportunity to experience a Brazilian football match. The team had a fantastic time and made many friends during the trip – the athletes were often stopped and asked to pose for photos by the Brazilian athletes.
This was a truly brilliant experience for all involved; it will no doubt help the athletes achieve their future performance targets as well as providing many happy memories.