Poland shows Para sport passion

Paralympic athletes meet fans for first time at Olympic Picnic

Group of children watching two people practicing wheelchair fencing Children practicing wheelchair fencing at public park in Warsaw in Poland © • Adrian Stykowski Fotografia/NPC Poland

Hundreds of children from Polish capital Warsaw have had the chance to experience Para sports with some of the country’s best athletes. The city hosted the 20th edition of the Olympic Picnic, with the Polish Paralympic Committee (NPC Poland) featured for the first time.

Around 20 Paralympians took part in the event held on Sunday (10 June) at the Peka Potocka Park. Eight sports were featured; Blind football, Para biathlon, Para cycling, Para powerlifting, Para rowing, sitting volleyball, wheelchair basketball and wheelchair fencing.

The Olympic Picnic is a traditional summer event in Warsaw where people, mostly children, have the opportunity to meet athletes and get to know different sports to promote a healthy lifestyle and sport values.

There were long queues especially at the Para biathlon stand where visitors had the chance to experience shooting for vision impaired athletes. Trying to hit the target guided by sound proved to be a very difficult task.

“I am really surprised by the number of people who visited our area and the number of children who wanted to take part in the activities. We have to continue that. Those who visited us will remember Para sports and this will have a positive impact,” said Adrian Castro, wheelchair fencing bronze medallist at the Rio 2016 Games.

“This [event] has topped my expectations,” said Polish hand-cyclist Piotr Malek. “There were hundreds of questions we had to answer. It was a really great event. People were saying they have never seen a hand-bike in their lives and nobody was mentioning any pitiful thing. This was not only about inclusion, this was also information and education. We show there is only one sport.”

NPC Poland President Lukasz Szeliga thanked the Polish Olympic Committee for the invitation for the event.

“The fact that we take part in the Olympic Picnic means we want to introduce Para sports and Paralympians to the whole society. Everybody who comes to our stand can talk to them, try Para sports and, what is most important, have fun together. I want to thank Andrzej Krasnicki, the President of the Polish Olympic Committee, for making it possible.

“Among our visitors there also were children with disabilities. Maybe they will pick up some sport, as it is a perfect way for rehabilitation and the best way to become self-sufficient. Also, in some cases, it can be a way to fulfil dreams and win a Paralympic medal,” Szeliga added.