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Parlympic search for role models

COMPETITOR: Kare Adenegan

TRAWLING THROUGH the 264 athletes that will take to the field of play to represent ParalympicsGB in 19 of the 22 Paralympic sports on offer in Rio its hard not to ask the obvious question: Where are all the black people?

ParalympicsGB are a leading force in the world of disability sports but despite the record medal haul and extensive coverage from London 2012 there seems to be little attention being paid to the fact that our TeamGB Olympic contingent was far more representative of the Britain most of us know.

Paralympic athletics head coach Paula Dunn recently told the Voice of Sport the fact that only ten per cent of the 54 athletes named as part of her team that will compete in Rio are black was ‘poor’.

However, Dunn was positive about what needed to be done in order to change the current situation. “I think it’s all about role models,” Dunn said.

“I think if you can see somebody that looks like you on television competing then you are more likely to do it.

“I think we have to keep pushing role models. I think that making sure the community, my community, our community are aware of the opportunities is key.

“Ten per cent is ok, nothing compared to what the Olympic programmes are doing but it’s for us now to get out into those communities and try and really sell the message of Paralympic athletics and try and attract more people of colour into our sport.”

Chris Clarke T11 100m, 200m guide for Libby Clegg, Kadeena Cox T38 100m, 400m & 4x100m relay, Kare Adenegan T34 100m, 400m, 800m and Vanessa Daobry F34 shot put, are the only black track and field athletes competing in Rio for ParalympicsGB.

Dunn believes these athletes flying the flag in Brazil have the potential to inspire a generation. “There should be more (black people), absolutely.”

“But I am hoping people see these guys faces and see they look like them and feel more inspired to come and try it.

“They will be able to say they look like me, they have my disability and therefore I should be able to do it. We need to keep pushing that message out there. I personally want more people of colour in our team.”

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