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Media centre home > News> Sporting events> Graduate is one step closer to Paralympic dream

Issued:24/10/17

Double world champion RaceRunner and Sheffield Hallam University graduate, Ellie Simpson, is celebrating after it was announced that her sport was to become an official World Para Athletics event.

The sport development and coaching graduate who has cerebral palsy, has worked hard to promote the benefits of RaceRunning for people with the condition and has longed for it to become a Paralympic event. This latest development, supported by the International Paralympic Committee (IPC) means Ellie is one step closer to achieving her dream.

"I feel on top of the world for RaceRunning to finally be recognised as a World Para Athletics event," said Ellie, 22, who graduates next month. "RaceRunning is incredibly special as athletes who have the more severe levels of Cerebral Palsy/brain injuries, who would normally just sit on the side lines and spectate, are able to get out there and compete – and they’re running!

"It is incredible that athletes like me are now going to be given the chance to compete on a world stage and at a world class level. I feel like all my craziest of dreams have come true." - Ellie Simpson

The Cerebral Palsy International Sports and Recreation Association (CPISRA) recently announced that the World Para Athletics will introduce a selective RaceRunning program at the 2018 World Para Athletics European Championships in Berlin. National Paralympic Committees will be able to license RaceRunning athletes with World Para Athletics from 1 January 2018.

Ellie added: "When I first started RaceRunning, I was a little disappointed to learn that it wasn’t a Paralympic Sport. But my sheer love for it very much overwrote this and I knew it was the sport for me as I loved the fact that I was able to run around a running track and compete."

Ellie Simpson.jpg

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RaceRunning is a form of assisted running and provides athletes with high support needs, who cannot compete in a racing wheelchair and/or ambulant run with the opportunity for aerobic competition on the athletics track. RaceRunners are supported by a frame on wheels which allows them to successfully ambulate. 

At the moment, RaceRunning is promoted internationally by CPISRA, it features on the athletes’ program at their World Games and has its own World and European Championships. It has been included at various IWAS World Games since 2011. But now Ellie, who is the UK's number one race runner and is the founder of CP Teens - a charity that connects young people with disabilities to support, advice and opportunities, is confident that her sport will make the 2024 Paralympic Games in Paris.

"It is unlikely at this stage that RaceRunning will be added to the programme for Tokyo 2020, although it's not entirely impossible. However, I am really confident it will make Paris 2024 and I’ve already got this goal in mind when training.

"To be a Paralympian would be my ultimate achievement. Just the thought of it sends me into a whirlwind. Also, to be one of the first ever RaceRunning athletes at the Paralympics would be incredible. It is a sport that I’ve been a part of and put my heart and soul into developing, so to see it in Paris will be phenomenal."

For press information: Sarah Duce in the Sheffield Hallam University press office on 0114 225 4025 or email s.duce@shu.ac.uk