Monthly update from our Chef de Mission
on 18-09-2013 11:00
ParalympicsGB Chef de Mission for Sochi 2014 Penny Briscoe shares an insight into the planning and activity behind preparing the team for the Sochi 2014 Paralympic Winter Games.
Wednesday August 28, 2013 is a day that I will remember long after the Paralympic flame has been extinguished from the Fischt Stadium in Sochi. The Braehead Curling Rink was the venue and the occasion was the announcement of the first four athletes on the ParalympicsGB team sheet for the Sochi 2014 Paralympic Games; particularly poignant for me is the fact that these four athletes are the first I have announced in the capacity of Chef de Mission.
"There was also a sense of collective pride... to be best prepared to deliver personal best performances in Sochi."Penny Briscoe
It was a proud moment indeed for Aileen Neilson, Tom Killin, Gregor Ewan and Bob McPherson and what was interesting to see was that, irrespective of whether it was a first Games ‘newbie’ or a more seasoned campaigner, the pride was no less as the names were read out in front of a significant number of journalists and media crews. What was also palpable was the feeling of ‘team’ – yes there was the individual pride in the personal endeavour that had led to selection but there was also a sense of collective pride (and determination), as part of ParalympicsGB, to be best prepared to deliver personal best performances in Sochi.
A seasoned campaigner of both summer and winter Games, Tom Killin summarised it beautifully as he articulated that he had been made to work harder than ever before to get his name on the team sheet for his third successive winter Games; that the team was the most cohesive he had been involved in and that the support programme led by Performance Director Dave Crosbee and Head Coach Tony Zummack had taken him as an individual and his fellow Scottish team-mates to new levels of performance and expectation.
Given the standards that we saw at the Sochi test event back in February ‘talent, pride and determination’ will clearly be required if Tom and other selected ParalympicsGB athletes are to be successful, but more than ever the best and most talented British athletes clearly need to be supported by the best and most talented management and technical support teams if individual and team targets are to be hit.
Tom’s insights just confirmed to me what the UK high performance system needs and is striving for and I know that the combination of talented and committed athletes and staff, supported by ambitious National Governing Body programmes, is the platform for future success at the Paralympic Games.
"We have a simple ambition which is to ensure we are all best prepared to thrive in the Games environment."Penny Briscoe
My commitment to selected and aspiring athletes is that ParalympicsGB will support the identification, recruitment and development of the best people for the required roles in Sochi and we will only accredit those staff who are identified as being ‘mission critical’. We have a simple ambition which is to ensure we are all best prepared to thrive in the Games environment; no stone will be left unturned as we strive to reach the end point of the cycle ready to deliver.
September 7 marked six months to go until Sochi 2014, and it coincided with the first ever National Paralympic Day. A huge event took place on the Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park in London, where crowds flocked to see international elite matches in Boccia, Table Tennis, Sitting Volleyball and Wheelchair Basketball. It was also fantastic to see lots of Paralympians in attendance, including David Weir, Sophie Christiansen and Hannah Cockroft, and to recall their sporting success that did so much to engage the British public during the Home Games.
One year on from London 2012, it was fantastic to see the enthusiasm and support for Paralympic sport from the general public and I hope that Sochi will provide another opportunity for our fans to explore winter Paralympic sports and to get behind British athletes.