BT today demonstrated its long-term commitment to disability sport as it announced its new, four-year title sponsorship of the BT Paralympic World Cup.
In addition, Oscar “Blade Runner” Pistorius, one of the world’s leading Paralympic athletes, is also confirmed as the latest athlete to join the BT Ambassador Programme, which aims to inspire BT’s employees and customers to support and mentor the young British hopefuls aiming to compete in the London 2012 Games and beyond.
The BT Paralympic World Cup is the largest annual international multi-sport competition in elite disability sport, and takes place from 20-25 May 2009 in Manchester.
BT Group Marketing and Brand Director Suzi Williams said: “After the fantastic success of the Paralympic Games in Beijing we have all been touched by the awesome inspirational power of the Paralympics. That is why BT is proud to support this event and help raise the profile of disability sport globally. The BT Paralympic World Cup is a wonderful opportunity for the world’s best Paralympic athletes to take part in elite competition as they look towards the London 2012 Paralympic Games.”
Suzi Williams continued: “We’re also delighted that Oscar Pistorius has become a BT Ambassador. Through his courage and determination, Oscar has redefined the very concept of athletic achievement and he’s an inspiration to people around the world.”
Oscar Pistorius said: “The BT Paralympic World Cup is a special event for me. My aspiration is to qualify for London 2012 in both the Olympic and Paralympic Games, so the event is a very important stepping stone.”
ParalympicsGB host the event and their Chief Executive Phil Lane added:
“Since its inception in 2005, the Paralympic World Cup has become an important event in the elite disability sport calendar and I am delighted that a company with BT’s global stature is supporting it.
“Not only does the BT Paralympic World Cup raise the profile of disability sport in Great Britain between the Paralympic Games, it also gives our athletes an opportunity to compete on home soil against the world’s best, which is vital for preparation for the Paralympics.”
Minister for Sport Gerry Sutcliffe said: “The Paralympic World Cup is a fantastic showcase event for our most talented athletes with a disability. As well as being an important competition in its own right it will be a significant part of our athletes' preparation for London 2012, where our Paralympians will look to better their superb performances in Beijing. I applaud BT for its support of the Paralympic World Cup and for shining a spotlight on disability sport with their ambassador programme.”
BT’s four year sponsorship runs up to and includes the 2012 BT Paralympic World Cup.
BT’s rights include extensive branding at all events, tickets and other additional marketing rights. There will also be opportunities for BT people to be involved through volunteering.
The official 2009 stakeholders of the BT Paralympic World Cup are the Northwest Regional Development Agency (NWDA), Manchester City Council and UK Sport.
Peter Mearns, Executive Director of Marketing and Communications at the NWDA, said:
“The NWDA along with the other key stakeholders have made a major contribution to the establishment and continuation of the Paralympic World Cup since 2005. We welcome the announcement of a new title sponsor for the Paralympic World Cup and look forward to working with BT to achieve stakeholder objectives.”
Councillor Mike Amesbury, Executive Member for Culture and Leisure at Manchester City Council said: “Manchester is excited to see the return of the Paralympic World Cup for the fifth year, as a fundamental part of our major events programme.
We look forward to welcoming all the countries that will be competing this year and are committed to delivering a world-class event, confirming Manchester’s position as the world’s leading sport city.”
UK Sport’s Events Consultant, Clare Hartley, said: “We are delighted to be supporting the Paralympic World Cup for the fifth successive year as part of our ongoing commitment to Paralympic sport. This event provides athletes with valuable exposure to world class competition in Paralympic disciplines and is a fantastic opportunity for British athletes to compete internationally on home soil in preparation for London 2012.”
The BBC, the official televised partner to the event, will again broadcast live from the Manchester Aquatics Centre on Monday 25 May 2009 on BBC Television.
Dave Gordon, Head of Major Events for BBC Sport, said: “New heroes and heroines were created in Beijing. There is a clear audience appetite for world class disability sport and we in BBC Sport believe that this exciting event can play a crucial role in continuing to raise the profile of disability sport in the years between Paralympics.”
Tickets for the BT Paralympic World Cup will be available from February 2009. For more information visit: www.paralympics.org.uk
FRANK UIJLENBROEK WORLDSPORTPICS