14 March is Commonwealth Day and to mark the occasion for 2016 the Commonwealth Games Federation along with the Gold Coast 2018 Organising Committee have announced an expanded para-sport programme for the 2018 Commonwealth Games.
The changes herald a new and expanded range of sports and an increased number of athletes for the next edition of the Games. Gold Coast 2018 will boast the largest-ever Para-Sport programme in Commonwealth Games history, comprising up to 300 para-athletes and 38 medal events across 7 sports.
Fiona Allan, Chief Executive of Paralympics New Zealand, and Kereyn Smith, Chief Executive of the New Zealand Olympic Committee and Vice-President of the Commonwealth Games Federation are both thrilled with the changes implemented for 2018.
“The increased size of the Para-Sport programme at the Gold Coast 2018 Commonwealth Games is evidence of the huge growth in terms of public interest and competing athletes we have seen in many Para-Sport events in recent years,” said Allan.
“This is a great opportunity for Kiwi Para-Athletes to compete on the international stage between the Rio 2016 and Tokyo 2020 Paralympic Games. We hope their performances so close to home will both inspire potential athletes and engage supporters even further.”
Smith noted the important role that the Commonwealth Games plays in the New Zealand sporting landscape.
“Our planning for the 2018 Commonwealth Games is well underway and the expanded Para-Sport programme is a positive step forward as we look towards the next edition of the Commonwealth Games on the Gold Coast,” she said.
“We believe the new look para programme will result in more inspirational Kiwi athletes excelling on the Commonwealth stage and we look forward to supporting them on this journey.”
With the 2016 Commonwealth day theme ‘an Inclusive Commonwealth’ having just launched, the announcement is a positive step forward for the Commonwealth nations collectively. Today’s announcement represents an increase of 45% more athletes and 73% more medals compared to the record-breaking para-sport competition at Glasgow 2014.
The sports being contested by para-athletes at Gold Coast 2018 will be Athletics, Cycling (Track), Lawn Bowls, Powerlifting, Swimming, Table Tennis and Triathlon. There will also be an equal number of men’s and women’s events across all 7 para-sports, further demonstrating the Commonwealths Sports Movement’s commitment to equality and inclusion.
Para-triathlon will be presented for the first time ever at a Commonwealth Games, building on the enormous success and profile of Triathlon competition at Glasgow 2014 and internationally.
The first ever wheelchair marathon (T54) at a Commonwealth Games will take the inspirational thrill of Para-Sport competition to the streets and communities of the Gold Coast.
Since the last Games, both the Athletics and Swimming para-sport programme has doubled (from 6 to 12 medal events each).
The Commonwealth Sports Movement’s first-ever ring fenced quota system for Para-Sport athletes, implemented as part of Transformation 2022’s Sports Programme innovations, also ensures that Commonwealth Games Federation’s member associations are supported and subsidised to send larger para-sport teams to Gold Coast 2018 than ever before.
A sports movement committed to equality, para-sports are an integrated and inclusive part of the daily sports programme and medal table at the Commonwealth Games. They were first integrated in 2002 at the Commonwealth Games in Manchester.