As part of our International Day of Persons with Disabilities celebrations, we wanted to showcase the disability sport that has taken place so far this season across our events and BUCS Wednesdays, and give a little preview of what is still to come...

This season marks our biggest disability sport season so far, with 13 disability sports included as part of the BUCS programme; athletics, cycling, para-powerlifting, swimming, wheelchair basketball, wheelchair tennis, badminton, taekwondo, triathlon, archery, golf, judo and table tennis.

Wheelchair basketball is in its inaugural season, and is available to both disabled and able-bodied athletes. The new sport had its first round of fixtures at the end of October with nine teams taking part across three leagues, where Nottingham bounced to the top of the midlands league along with Durham and Brunel in the northern league and southern league respectively. 

At one of the toughest events in the BUCS calendar, BUCS Hill Climb saw the first disability athlete representation of the season. It was Loughborough's dominant pairing who took home BUCS gold: Morgan Newberry in the women’s category and Charlie Stanton-Stock in the men’s. 

From one sporting powerhouse to another. Two University of Stirling athletes saw huge success in the Speedo and BUCS Short Course Swimming Championships. Ollie Carter and Tokyo 2020 paralympic bronze medallist Toni Shaw stole the show at Ponds Forge on their way to being named men’s and women’s Para Performance Champions. Toni went one step further and smashed a national record in the S9 100m butterfly.  

Swimming has always been a sport in which BUCS para athletes have shone; in 2019, the Short Course Championships had twenty athletes compete, and at the Tokyo Paralympics, twenty swimming medals were won by BUCS current athlete and alumni. These medals were dominated by the likes of Manchester Metropolitan University, Northumbria University, and University of East Anglia. 

Moving onto the court, Loughborough University’s wheelchair tennis star Abbie Breakwell currently has a juniors singles ranking of third in the world. After winning the inaugural BUCS wheelchair tennis championships in the summer, she continues to go from strength to strength.

Vince Mayne, CEO of BUCS commented: “With 12% of university students across the UK identifying as having a disability or impairment, it's so important that we make sure sport is accessible for all. Acknowledging the challenges and barriers that disabled athletes face, the university sport sector is working towards providing more inclusive experiences, and the increasing number of disability and para events in BUCS is testament to this.

It’s been fantastic to celebrate the successes of disabled athletes in BUCS competitions and events in the year so far, and we look forward to many more instances of this over the course of the season. In February, we will be hosting the first disability badminton championships at BUCS Nationals, as well as offering more opportunities for competition across a range of sports such as taekwondo, triathlon and archery. The very best of luck to all competitors.”

Find out more about our para-sport offering here.

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