Games exceeding British Paralympics chief’s dreams

ParalympicsGB chief executive Tim Hollingsworth "thrilled" with ticket sales ahead of next year's Games

Sportsbeat
By Sportsbeat
paralympics 2012
Athletes like Sophia Warner could compete in front of capacity crowds at next year's Paralympics

paralympics 2012

ParalympicsGB chief executive Tim Hollingsworth has admitted that the level of interest in next year’s Games has already exceeded even his wildest expectations.

Hollingsworth took time out from his hectic schedule on Wednesday to help launch the BOA and BPA’s ‘nearest and dearest’ programme, set up in partnership with P&G UK.

He only joined ParalympicsGB in May, taking over from Phil Lane having previously worked as UK Sport chief operating officer, a time in which he has seen 2012 tickets first go on sale on September 9.

In just under a month since then London 2012 officials have announced that more than a third of ticketed sessions will have to go to a ballot, after demand exceeded supply in the first phase of sales.

And with 16 of the 20 sports on offer already oversubscribed, along with the opening and closing ceremonies, Hollingsworth insists home support will be key as Britain’s Paralympic athletes bid for gold.

“We are absolutely thrilled with the ticket sales, London 2012 and Locog have done a fantastic job,” said Hollingsworth.

“Just to know that we are going to have those sports well supported is a huge achievement and so important going forward for our plans.

“Overall we are delighted with where things are and now we have one year left to make sure our athletes are firing on all cylinders come the Games.

“We had all the chef de missions from the other Paralympic countries over for the year-to-go celebrations and they could not believe the level of interest and excitement we had generated.

“We just want as many British people there waving flags and cheering on our athletes and, while this is what we hoped could happen, we never dreamed of expecting it.”

Hollingsworth and his team are charged with replicating and improving on Britain’s performance from the Beijing Games four years ago where they won 42 gold medals, second only to hosts China.

And Hollingsworth has pledged that his team will do everything in their power to make sure all British athletes are in the best possible shape come the Games next year.

“The no stone unturned approach sounds like a cliché but it’s true,” added Hollingsworth. “Our job is to look in every area of an athlete’s life and think to ourselves ‘what is there that we can help, support and improve?

“And an athlete doesn’t just eat, train and sleep, they have lives and families and friends and that is just as much a part of being prepared as the amount of repetitions they do in the gym.

“Their support network they have grown up with can have a huge impact on how they react and respond to what is in front of them so the ‘nearest and dearest’ programme aims to help them out with that.”

Tim Hollingsworth was speaking at the launch of the ‘nearest and dearest’ programme in partnership with P&G – supporting family and friends of all TeamGB and ParalympicsGB athletes in the lead up to London 2012. Visit www.pgproudsponsorofmums.co.uk

© Sportsbeat 2011

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