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26 Jul 2006

The South Wales Ariam Media Wheelchair Sports Spectacular has again inspired children, young people and adults across the region with a spectacular ‘hands on’ insight into wheelchair sports.

Climbing at the 2006 Wheelchair Sport SpectacularAs Wales’ young wheelchair athletes were competing at the World Junior Athletic Championships in Dublin, over 250 participants descended upon Cardiff’s National Athletics Centre (NIAC) to have a go at wheelchair sports.

Run by Disability Sport Wales, the event aims to get people more active in wheelchair sports, offering a range of activities run by local sports clubs and coaches, from rugby to table tennis, basketball and more.

Joanna Coates, Disability Sport Wales Development Officer for Sport, ensured the centre was transformed into a hive of activity. She said:

"This is the third year that the Spectacular has taken place in Wales and I was thrilled to host the event in Cardiff again.

"We are keen to get across the message that wheelchair sport is not just for wheelchair users and is open to anyone who would use a wheelchair for sport.

"Some disability sports clubs in the area even have non-disabled members who are fully included in the club activities."

Among those out to learn more about wheelchair sport was Newport Gwent Dragons rugby star, Luke Charteris.

Squeezing his lofty physique into a wheelchair was no match for the 6ft 9 inch Wales rugby player, who was more than pleased to engage South Wales’ youngsters in a thrilling game of wheelchair rugby along with members of the Cardiff Pirates Wheelchair Rugby Team.

Meanwhile, Commonwealth table tennis player, Sara Head, and the Sports Council for Wales’ Disability Coach of the Year, Jim Munkley MBE, were happily instructing the next generation of wide-eyed talent.

With this year’s emphasis on turning more participants into club members, the guidance from Wales’ elite athletes helped draw participants to the sidelines and instil them with the hunger to have a go.

Wheelchair basketball at the 2006 Wheelchair Sport SpectacularThe action quickly spread outdoors when Wales’ Paralympic sledge hockey player turned sailor, Stephen Thomas, encouraged participants to try hand-cycling and tackle a spectacular climbing wall.

Also present was David Morgan, Director of Ariam Media who sponsored this year’s Sports Spectacular. He added:

"We're delighted to sponsor such a unique event in Wales happening literally on our doorstep.

"This is a brilliant opportunity for both people with and without disabilities to find out just what can be done using a wheelchair rather than what can't.

"It’s a great way to aid many people's understanding of wheelchair sports."