Paralympic athletes take centre stage at Path to Success Wheelchair Basketball fundraising event

This is Path to Success’ sixth annual fundraising event to support GB female athletes in disability sport who are aiming to participate in the Paris Paralympic Games 2024

Anita Choudhrie Path to SuccessPath to Success, the disability charity founded in 2005 by philanthropist Anita Choudhrie MBE, has always had one mission: to support and empower female GB athletes in disability sports. 

The charity began as a way to support a school for underprivileged children in India, but soon began providing specialised wheelchairs for those in need. Today, it also helps provide funding to female para athletes in four different disability sports: wheelchair basketball, para badminton, wheelchair tennis and para powerlifting. 

The decision to exclusively support female para-athletes was a conscious one, says Anita, who noticed that the female athletes weren’t receiving the same standard of support as other high-level athletes.

Over the last six years, the charity has been making good on its promise to empower women athletes by hosting an annual fundraising event — the Wheelchair Basketball Challenge — in collaboration with London Titans Wheelchair Basketball Club and East London Phoenix Women Premier League Team. Path to SuccessThis year, the event was held on 2 May and saw corporate teams — coached by elite basketball players — compete against other teams in a bid to be crowned 2024 Wheelchair Basketball Champion. They also watched a professional exhibition match between the two clubs. 

The Wheelchair Basketball Challenge also saw Tempus’s Floyd Woodrow MBE DCM LLB compete in the sport. Floyd, the founder of leadership development foundation Compass for Life, also gave a rousing speech to motivate the players present at the event as part of his keynote speech.

“When we tried it for the first year or two, it was a bit of a struggle to convince people that this was a good way to spend the day — watching, learning and then playing the game — to feel what the real Paralympic Games feels like,” says Anita of the fundraiser, which has now grown to attract supporters of the charity and fans of the sport.Path to Success “Basketball is a popular sport worldwide — kids have grown up playing in schools — but to do it on a wheelchair is a huge challenge,” she adds. “The idea is to remind everyone just how challenging life can be for a para athlete

Through Path to Success, Anita has changed the lives of many disabled athletes and brought them closer to their dream of becoming a Paralympian

Anita credits the charity’s success to the help and guidance of her supporters, benefactors and partners, which have included former and experienced athletes.

The majority of the funds raised directly benefits athletes by contributing financial aid towards the costs of coaching, competition costs, as well as practical necessities such as specialist wheelchairs, accommodation, travel logistics and entrance fees to tournaments.RebeccaOne such athlete who has benefited from Path to Success is para powerlifter Rebecca Bedford, who plans to compete at the Paris Paralympics this year — and already has her sights trained towards Los Angeles 2028.

“I am very excited to have the opportunity to compete at my first Paralympic Games. There are of course some nerves as I have no idea what to expect, but I am really excited to be going as part of an incredible para powerlifting team as well as the ParalympicsGB team as a whole,” says Rebecca.

This will be her first time competing in the Paralympic Games, and she plans to ensure she enjoys it.

“It will be a great opportunity to understand how a major games works and to experience performing under that kind of pressure with the audience and media coverage so then I can take my learnings to the Los Angeles 2028 Paralympics and hopefully be in with a good chance of medals,” she adds.Lucy ShukerAnother athlete who credits Path to Success for her Paralympic Games journey is wheelchair tennis player Lucy Shuker, who is gearing up to return to the Roland Garros stadium for Paris 2024.

I am extremely grateful to Path to Success for all the support they have given me as an athlete over the past two Paralympic cycles. Their financial support is a game changer with training and travel costs increasing all the time. I am proud to be one of the female athletes with a disability that this charity has got behind and can’t thank them enough,” says Lucy.

As for her hopes for the future, Anita has a very simple wish: to see para athletes and women with disabilities get more encouragement, funding and love so they can do incredible things.

“To take part in a para sport professionally, you need to dedicate your full time, be passionate, be resilient — and have access to funding. We will help and encourage current and the next generations of paralympians, with a sense of purpose, achievement and success,” says Anita. “I just want to see them happy and successful.”

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