Paralympic Games: Here’s where you can try out disability sport in Greater Manchester

Jonnie Peacock (right) in action in the 100m men’s T64 final at the Paralympic Games. Photo by Carmen Mandato/Getty ImagesJonnie Peacock (right) in action in the 100m men’s T64 final at the Paralympic Games. Photo by Carmen Mandato/Getty Images
Jonnie Peacock (right) in action in the 100m men’s T64 final at the Paralympic Games. Photo by Carmen Mandato/Getty Images

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If you’ve enjoyed all the action from Tokyo , been inspired by local athletes like Dame Sarah Storey and want to give parasport a go, here’s what you need to know.

The Paralympic Games in Tokyo have once again captivated the nation.

Sports fans have been glued to their seats watching the Great Britain team, including the likes of Manchester sporting icon Dame Sarah Storey, battle it out for medals in more than 20 sports.

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As well as providing a feast of elite sporting action, it is also hoped the Paralympics will encourage more people to play sport.

We’ve been taking a look at how Manchester residents can try out some of the things they may have seen on their screens.

So if you’ve been enjoying the action from Japan and fancy giving parasport a go, here’s what you need to know.

Swimming

Swimming has long been a popular part of the Paralympic programme, with athletes like Ellie Simmonds and Ellie Robinson becoming household names for their exploits in the pool.

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And anyone who wants to think about following in their footsteps can head to the City of Manchester Aquatics Centre.

The main swimming pool hall of the Manchester Aquatics Centre (Photo by OLI SCARFF/AFP via Getty Images)The main swimming pool hall of the Manchester Aquatics Centre (Photo by OLI SCARFF/AFP via Getty Images)
The main swimming pool hall of the Manchester Aquatics Centre (Photo by OLI SCARFF/AFP via Getty Images)

The venue hosts sessions to get people started in para-swimming.

And Swim England is running a Start Para-Swimming initiative to build on the interest in the sport after the Paralympics.

There are two sessions in Manchester, on 16 September and 30 September.

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The Stockport Sharks Swimming Club also gives people with physical and sensory disabilities the chance to get in the water informally at Life Leisure in Hazel Grove.

Wheelchair rugby

Wheelchair rugby secured a host of new followers as viewers enjoyed watching the Great Britain team secure an historic gold medal, the first time a European team has been on the podium.

Anyone fancying giving the chair-clashing, full-contact sport a go will need to travel slightly out of Manchester to the West Coast Crash club, the only one in the North West.

Chuck Aoki of the USA and Jim Roberts of Great Britain battling in the wheelchair rugby final at the Paralympic Games.  Photo by Alex Pantling/Getty ImagesChuck Aoki of the USA and Jim Roberts of Great Britain battling in the wheelchair rugby final at the Paralympic Games.  Photo by Alex Pantling/Getty Images
Chuck Aoki of the USA and Jim Roberts of Great Britain battling in the wheelchair rugby final at the Paralympic Games. Photo by Alex Pantling/Getty Images

The club is based at Southport and has two teams, the Crash and the Burn.

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And given that several members of the Crash have worked their way up to the Great Britain squad, anyone heading down for the first time just might be on a path leading to considerable success.

In addition to joining a club, Great Britain Wheelchair Rugby is launching a search for future talent with its Pathway to Podium programme.

The scheme visits Greater Manchester for a day learning about the all-action sport on 21 November in Oldham.

Wheelchair basketball

Wheelchair basketball is one of the real blue riband events of the Paralympics and a hugely-enjoyable sport for players and spectators alike.

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Those who watched the likes of Leigh’s Gregg Warburton and his team-mates in action and would like to have a go will need to get in touch with one of the local clubs to start their basketball experience.

Gregg Warburton playing wheelchair basketball for GB against Canada. Photo by Tasos Katopodis/Getty ImagesGregg Warburton playing wheelchair basketball for GB against Canada. Photo by Tasos Katopodis/Getty Images
Gregg Warburton playing wheelchair basketball for GB against Canada. Photo by Tasos Katopodis/Getty Images

There are two clubs in Manchester or fairly close by, the Manchester Giants Mavericks club at Belle Vue and The Owls Disabled Sports at Stalybridge.

The Mavericks are also running free wheelchair basketball sessions on 5 and 12 September to try out the sport at the National Basketball Performance Centre in Manchester.

The Bulls Disabled Sports Club is also located in Greater Manchester in Bolton.

Athletics

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Athletics has always been one of the crown jewels in the Paralympic programme and has made major sporting stars out of the likes of Jonnie Peacock, David Weir and Hannah Cockroft, to name just three British champions.

There are plenty of athletics clubs across Greater Manchester if you fancy trying out your speed on the track or testing your power in the field.

Marcel Hug competing in a wheelchair athletics race at the Paralympic Games. Photo by Dean Mouhtaropoulos/Getty ImagesMarcel Hug competing in a wheelchair athletics race at the Paralympic Games. Photo by Dean Mouhtaropoulos/Getty Images
Marcel Hug competing in a wheelchair athletics race at the Paralympic Games. Photo by Dean Mouhtaropoulos/Getty Images

If endurance challenges are more your thing, the Manchester Half Marathon is also fully accessible to para-athletes, including wheelchair racers and blind runners with their guides.

Cycling

The sport of Manchester legend Dame Sarah Storey, who has won more gold medals than any other British Paralympian, cycling is always a popular part of the Games.

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It’s also extremely inclusive, with categories for solo riders, tandems for blind or visually-impaired pedallers, hand cycles and trikes.

Dame Sarah Storey riding in the velodrome in Tokyo. Photo: Kiyoshi Ota/Getty ImagesDame Sarah Storey riding in the velodrome in Tokyo. Photo: Kiyoshi Ota/Getty Images
Dame Sarah Storey riding in the velodrome in Tokyo. Photo: Kiyoshi Ota/Getty Images

Anyone who wants to go can hit the boards of the velodrome with one-hour sessions on alternate Thursdays at the HSBC UK National Cycling Centre in Manchester.

Riders will get an hour on track with expert coaching and both solo and tandem riders are catered for.

Rowing

Para-rowing has captured the imagination with British successes at the Paralympic Games and Salford is the place to be for Manchester residents wanting to head out on the water.

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Agecroft Rowing Club, located at Salford Quays, has a para-rowing programme and helps athletes with a range of disabilities enjoy their chosen sport.

Laurence Whiteley and Lauren Rowles of Team Great Britain in the Paralympic Games rowing. Photo: Naomi Baker/Getty ImagesLaurence Whiteley and Lauren Rowles of Team Great Britain in the Paralympic Games rowing. Photo: Naomi Baker/Getty Images
Laurence Whiteley and Lauren Rowles of Team Great Britain in the Paralympic Games rowing. Photo: Naomi Baker/Getty Images

Get in touch with the club to see if learning to scull with a pair of oars might be the pastime for you.

Goalball

Goalball involves two teams of blind or visually-impaired athletes trying to bowl a ball into the opponent’s net while doing everything in their power to prevent scores against them,

It’s not an event which Britain has typically enjoyed a lot of international success in but that has not deterred the enthusiasts at Lancashire Lions VISC.

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Goalball at the Paralympic Games. Photo: Yasuyoshi Chiba/ AFP via Getty ImagesGoalball at the Paralympic Games. Photo: Yasuyoshi Chiba/ AFP via Getty Images
Goalball at the Paralympic Games. Photo: Yasuyoshi Chiba/ AFP via Getty Images

Not only does it give people the chance to have a go at goalball, but there are also opportunities to try out sports not in the Paralympic programme such as cricket and baseball for blind or visually-impaired players.

Wheelchair tennis

Wheelchair tennis has enjoyed a huge rise in profile over the past few years and British stars like Gordon Reid, Alfie Hewett, Jordanne Whiley and Lucy Shuker have been battling for medals in Tokyo.

With wheelchair events now part of the Grand Slams, there has never been a better time to pick up a racquet.

Team GB's Gordon Reid celebrates victory against Gustavo Fernandez of Argentina during the Wheelchair Tennis Men's Singles quarter-finals. (Photo by Buda Mendes/Getty Images)Team GB's Gordon Reid celebrates victory against Gustavo Fernandez of Argentina during the Wheelchair Tennis Men's Singles quarter-finals. (Photo by Buda Mendes/Getty Images)
Team GB's Gordon Reid celebrates victory against Gustavo Fernandez of Argentina during the Wheelchair Tennis Men's Singles quarter-finals. (Photo by Buda Mendes/Getty Images)

The Lawn Tennis Association (LTA) is heading out on the road this year to try to encourage a new generation of stars.

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And the initiative comes to Greater Manchester with a day at the Bolton Arena on 26 September.

Getting fit

If you’re not quite ready to pick a sport and just feel like improving your general physical shape, then a network of accessible gyms in Greater Manchester is here to help.

Since 2017 the Activity Alliance and Quest have been working together to ensure more disabled people can enjoy getting active.

The Inclusive Fitness Initiative (IFI) accredits gyms which are accessible and welcoming to people with disability with its mark.

Currently there are six in Greater Manchester.

They are: the Manchester Aquatics Centre, Radcliffe Leisure Centre, Castle Leisure Centre in Bury, Active Hyde, Ramsbottom Pool and Fitness Centre and Seashell Trust Fitness Centre in Cheadle Hulme.

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