Latest News | 19 July 2022

Paralympic champion inspires students

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Paralympic and world champion athlete Richard Whitehead MBE has been inspiring young people interested in pursuing a career in sport at recent visit to the University of Derby.

Richard, who has a double through-knee congenital amputation, won his first world title at the World Championships in New Zealand, quickly followed by European and Paralympic gold in 2012.

More recently, at last year’s rescheduled 2020 Tokyo Paralympic Games, Richard claimed silver in the T61 200 metres.

He shared his journey as a professional athlete and covered the possible avenues available in the industry at the university’s Careers in Sport event, where he spoke in front of Year 10 and 12 students from a number of schools and colleges across Derbyshire and Staffordshire.

Richard, who recently launched The Richard Whitehead Foundation, which aims to inspire and tackle the barriers faced by people with disabilities in accessing sport and being engaged in their community, said: “The event at the University of Derby, I felt, was very engaging and to be a small part of the progress of the students towards further education is key to my own and my foundation’s legacy.

“I feel that we can all change the world in our small parts and for me it is aiming to progress and not to be perfect; that is the key!”

As well as listening to Richard’s talk, students had the opportunity to take part in activities such as cycling and rowing competitions and attend sport taster sessions sampling activities related to the university’s sports courses.

They also had the chance to try out sports on the pitches including football, hockey and basketball, located close to the university’s Sports Centre, which is equipped with state-of-the-art facilities including a fitness suite, tennis courts, and climbing wall.

Hannah Wright, schools and college liaison manager at the University of Derby, said: “The Schools and Colleges Liaison Team works with schools and colleges across the country to provide a link with the university.

“The team offers an exciting and inspirational programme of free events, which have been designed to showcase the breadth of progression options available to learners after Sixth Form or College.

“Face to face engagement with our undergraduate students and academics, as well as being able to take a look around our facilities and get a real feel for university life, is invaluable to young people when making decisions about their future.”

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