The spirit behind the spirit in motion

By Tahmeena Alam

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Ellie Simmons, Tanni Grey-Thompson, Sarah Storey – some of the names behind Great Britain’s Paralympic glory. Less unrecognisable are Barney Storey, Ian Thompson, and Steve Bayley, the coaches behind the success stories of some of the most decorated athletes.

But how important are the coaches and how accessible is it to those with the desire and talent?

Responsible for providing management, training and methodological principles to such athletes, they are often overlooked for their hard work and dedication to the sport.

The accessibility is often not discussed and people are often deterred from pursuing such a career due to the long process and perceived need of specialised skills to fulfill such duties. Another issue is centred around the cost and lack of accessibility from those from disadvantaged communities – many of which may have talent and inspiration that is yet to be tapped into.

It is apparent that development is needed in Paralympic coaching. The International Paralympic Education division of the International Paralympic Commission have launched an online programme for coaches of able bodied athletes looking to get involved in training impaired athletes. Consisting of four modules, the aim of the programme is to get people started with the aim improving the standard of Paralympic sport in the future.

Guido Bonsen, now the head coach of the Dutch Paralympic Athletic Team, is one of the many successfully transitioned coaches, with the hope of many more to come.