Solent keeps the Paralympics legacy alive
Paralympics GB stars joined Southampton Solent University in bringing the 2012 legacy to life on Saturday 2 March with the launch of the Team Solent Sharks Wheelchair Rugby Club.
The University welcomed London 2012 Paralympic stars Aaron Phipps, Ross Morrison and Kylie Grimes, as well as GB Wheelchair Rugby representatives and members of the local community to celebrate the launch of the new club – which is one of only eight wheelchair rugby clubs in the country.
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Vice-Chancellor Professor Van Gore welcomed the special guests at a VIP reception to celebrate the University’s £44,000 investment into the club, which will aid the purchase of 12 state-of-the-art bespoke wheelchairs from Roma Medical, provision of a training ground and administrative support.
The guests also toured the University’s Sports Science department with Dr Stewart Bruce-Low, who worked closely with the GBWR team ahead of the Paralympic Games last summer.
They then joined more than 200 spectators at Solent’s Sports Centre St Mary’s to watch a taster session for members of the local community, followed by the Sharks’ first competitive match against players from the GB Wheelchair Rugby Team.
Speaking at the launch, Vice-Chancellor Professor Van Gore said: “Solent University is one of the only universities in the country to have social justice at its heart and this is reflected through our support for the Solent Sharks. The club has a strong community dimension as well as an elitist athlete approach – which reflects the University’s approach to sport and the community.
“The club also offers a wealth of opportunity to our students – not only the chance to play but also the chance to undertake a variety of projects with the team, from photography and videography, through to sports journalism and sport science.”
Richard Cartwright, Senior Lecturer in Accountancy at Solent and Sharks team member, has
been a driving force behind the club’s creation. He said: “The promise of 2012 was legacy – to inspire a generation – and no matter our age, we are all part of that generation and I think we were all inspired. So after six months, the launch of the Solent Sharks has shown how we have all been part of that legacy. The support we have received from players, officials, staff and students means we can now make sure we keep the promise of London 2012.”
In addition to Solent’s investment, the club has also received the support of the local Freemasons, who presented the Sharks with a tool kit to help with the maintenance of the team’s wheelchairs.
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Southampton Solent University offers more than 19,000 students over 200 qualifications ranging from HND to PhD, in subjects such as maritime education and training, fashion and design, media and television, music, sport and leisure, business, IT and technology.