Playground to Podium athletes get call up for London 2012 team

Two athletes spotted through the Playground to Podium initiative are celebrating today. It was announced that Sophie Kamlish and Jamie Carter would be part of the athletics team taking part at the London 2012 Paralympic Games.

Playground to Podium (P2P) is a series of targeted interventions aimed at helping young disabled people progress from PE and community sport to high-level performance and competition. The ultimate aim of this initiative is to produce our next Paralympians and elite disabled athletes, by focusing on the identification, development and support of young disabled people. However, it is essential that all young disabled people have the opportunity to take part in high-quality sports provision.

Since its launch, Playground to Podium has provided a means of identifying and supporting potentially talented young disabled athletes. It has also enabled the development of an infrastructure to support more young disabled people to engage, remain and excel within sport.

The English Federation of Disability Sport and England Athletics have worked together on delivering part of the programme, including the County Athlete Assessment Days (CAAD). Two of the success stories out of the days are Sophie and Jamie.

In 2010, 15 year old Sophie was identified by Job King from England Athletics at the Wesport CAAD as part of the Playground to Podium framework and signposted to train under Rob Ellchuk at Team Bath. The same year, Jamie (17) was identified by Shelley Holroyd at the Humber CAAD.

They were two of a number of athletes that were fast-tracked onto performance pathways through the initiative. This recognised their potential to excel alongside others, who were signposted to club and participation opportunities- to nurture their development and desire to take part in sport.

“I was at home when I got the phone call on Monday", says Sophie. "Even though you meet the standard, you still never believe it’s possible until you get that call. It was amazing to hear I had made it!”

Now facing a showdown with world record holder T44 athlete American, April Holmes, Sophie is keen to prove how good she is in the 100m and 200m. Her favourite event is 100m and with a personal best now of 13.9secs, she says the turning point in her life was getting a running blade.

“It was under two years ago when I first began taking the sport seriously. But then I was using my day leg to run in. As soon as I got my running blade- it made a huge difference. I knocked two seconds off my time immediately and can’t even imagine running with my day leg again. That’s why charities like READY, who funded mine are so important to athletes like me. It cost about £4,600 but because some children are still growing- they will need to replace it a few times”.


A participant in the last two National Junior Athletics Championships, Sophie has had to withdraw from this weekend’s Nationwide Junior Athletics Championships organised by Disability Sport Events. Her reason- she is off to London to collect her kit and be part of the ParalympicsGB team launch!

She says to other athletes competing this weekend though,

“Events like the junior athletics are fantastic. Try your hardest but don’t worry if you don’t achieve what you want on the day. There is plenty of time and opportunity to reach your goal!”

Kat Southwell, EFDS Sports Development Manager and the organisation’s lead for Playground to Podium, was elated about Sophie and Jamie’s selection. She said,

“It’s very exciting to hear the news today. Both have worked incredibly hard since being identified and received such great support from family, friends, coaches and teachers. We hope their journeys inspire many more young disabled people to take part and others- in making their dreams come true”.

Chris Jones, Chief Executive of England Athletics, said,

“The announcement of the team for the Paralympic Games is a very exciting day for the sport. It is wonderful to see both Sophie and Jamie selected after benefitting from the County Athletics Assessment Days and wider Playground to Podium work. Their selection is testament to their own hard work and talent, and also highlights good work that has been going on across the country to give opportunities within athletics and support to many people across the country. We are pleased that our staff have played a part in this work and we will continue to work to bring more people into the sport and give them the support they deserve. Clubs and coaches have made great progress in the provision of disability athletics and we are committed to supporting them in this to ensure many more athletes are inspired and able to follow on from the successes of the athletes selected for this year’s Paralympic Games.”

The EFDS is the national sports body for disabled people in England. As the strategic lead organisation, EFDS champions opportunities for disabled people to enjoy sport, supporting the sport and physical activity sectors to be more inclusive. EFDS’s principal aim is to increase participation in sport and physical activity for disabled people. Working with partners, including Sport England and National Governing Bodies of sport, EFDS aim to give disabled people a more positive and memorable experience.

The registered charity represents a variety of sport and disability bodies as part of the governance- including the national disability sports organisations (NDSOs). EFDS has an important influencing role alongside advocating sport and physical activity for disabled people. 

Read more about the successes of Playground to Podium

For further EFDS press information please contact: Sarah Marl, Marketing and Communications Manager, Mobile 07764 291671

England Athletics

England Athletics works in partnership with the wider athletics community to create a vibrant, safe and progressive sport – embracing athletes of all abilities and from all communities to grow the next generation of athletics champions.

For more information please see www.englandathletics.org or contact:

Andy Barber, National Communications Officer, England Athletics

M 07774 486174

www.englandathletics.org/disabilityathletics