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World Sailing celebrates Oman first for Paralympic development

by Oman Sail 14 Mar 03:07 PDT
Para sailors and coaches have come together at the Mussanah Barceló resort © Oman Sail

World Sailing has kicked off its 2022 Paralympic Development Programme with its first event ever to be held in the Sultanate of Oman.

Para sailors and coaches have come together at the Mussanah Barceló resort, home of Oman Sail, for an extensive schedule on and off the water. Sessions are ranging from boat handling and racing skills, to rules and regatta management, with specific opportunities for coaches to develop their high performance para sailing expertise.

"We're excited to be in Oman for the very first time since launching our Paralympic Development Programme in 2017," said Catherine Duncan, Training & Development Executive at World Sailing. "We've seen over 210 sailors and coaches from 39 countries spanning six continents come through our programme - now we're breaking brand new ground in Oman."

World Sailing's Paralympic Development Programme has launched the careers of several top para sailors now competing at World Championship level and has been fundamental to launching and enhancing performance para sailing programmes around the world.

Oman in the spotlight

"Oman Sail has always prioritised inclusion, diversity and equality within the sport and the launch of Oman Sail's para sailing programme SailFree in 2019 - the first of its kind in the region - is a major step forward in the expansion of the sport, allowing us to create new opportunities within para sailing," said Khamis Al-Anbouri, Oman Sail Commercial Director and Head of SailFree.

"Now, thanks to World Sailing's Paralympic Development Programme, we have a valuable platform to further our ambitions to be a leader in para sailing and compete at the highest level by empowering athletes, teams and coaches, and enhancing our own capability to host regattas.

"Oman's Vision 2040 has made these values a core objective throughout our society, so we are proud to be focusing on developing a team capable of representing the nation around the world.

"We are hopeful that para sailing will be reinstated to the Paralympics to give our athletes the chance to shine on the grandest stage of all."

Hassan Al Lawati, who started his first sailing experience last year with the SailFree programme, is now taking part in World Sailing's Paralympic Development Programme in Oman: "When I began sailing, it was a completely new thing to do, but what I liked most about it is that it gives me motivation and self-challenge as well as unlocking opportunities to reach new horizons. I have learned a lot from the current sessions in Mussanah, especially that they are designed to give us enriching doses to develop and excel."

2022 crucial year for Paralympic sailing

Oman is the launchpad for a busy 2022 of World Sailing Paralympic Development Programmes. Next stop USA in June, Singapore in July, followed by Italy and South Africa - then to Japan ahead of the Para World Sailing Championships in Hiroshima on 20-23 October and back to Oman before the RS Venture SCS Para Sailing World Championship 23-27 November.

"We have clear evidence that our Paralympic Development Programmes are playing a central role in the growth of para sailing around the world," explained David Graham, CEO of World Sailing. "Over the past five years, the number of nations with para sailors participating in international competitions has increased by 30% - this is exciting in this crucial year for the reinstatement of para sailing in the Los Angeles 2028 Paralympic Games."

Sailing at LA28 Paralympic Games - #BacktheBid!

World Sailing officially kickstarted its reinstatement bid for the Los Angeles 2028 Paralympic Games last October outlining strategic priorities to support the growth of the sport by 2023 by increasing worldwide participation to 45 nations on 6 continents and increasing youth participation below the age of 30 to 20% of total athletes and growing the number of female participants to 30% and, ultimately, to achieve gender parity. At the same time, World Sailing launched the 'Back the Bid' #SailtoLA campaign, supported by renowned global sailors, leading figures in the sport and the world's para sailors.

"Today in Oman sailors and coaches are showing their support for sailing to be reinstated at LA28," said Graham. "??Sailing is for everyone, no matter how wide or limited a person's range of physical, sensory and intellectual ability - we have so much to offer to the Paralympic programme and we are working with the International Paralympic Committee on this very subject, as we continue our work towards reinstatement."

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