Month: April 2018
We meet Goz, a regular at our wheelchair dance classes to find out what she enjoys about being a wheelchair dancer.
How did you find out about Strictly Wheels? – At first, I was taking part in a ‘Get Inspired’ challenge which I had pitched to BBC Sport, where I would take part in a series of different sport challenges.
A friend found Strictly Wheels wheelchair dance but initially I wasn’t keen. I didn’t want to do it, I thought it was cheesy and at school I hated dance I thought it was just horrible. However, after just one class I was hooked!
How long have you been a wheelchair user? – I’ve been a wheelchair user since I was 18 months old. I had an illness which left me with paralysis diagonally across my body, with my right arm and left leg greatly affected.
Why did you decide to take part? – After those first couple of classes I was hooked, I loved it and wanted to do more. I’m a very competitive person and took part in national competitions at school in shotput, discus and javelin. Dance is something I can do despite my disability and I enjoy that it challenges me, making me use my brain to remember the steps and get it right.
What do you like about the classes? – “It’s fun!” it keeps me fit. I would like to raise the profile and encourage more people to get involved. I like that the dances aim to replicate the same steps for wheelchair users as standing partners, and dances are adapted based on ability not disability.
What benefits has wheelchair dancing brought to your life? – Dance gives me a sense of achievement and builds my confidence. It has proven to me that you can do anything if you put your mind to it. I’m still on a journey to see where dance will take me.
What has been a highlight of learning to dance so far? – There are 2 highlights – taking part in my first competition in October 2017 – the UK National Championship for Wheelchair Dance Sport when I won Gold in Debutante Combi Class 1 and Debutante Duo Class 1.
More recently we’ve just returned from Cuijk, Holland from one of the largest international competitions and we won Silver against 8 other couples in Debutante Combi 1 – that was an amazing feeling to place that high in our first big international.
How far would you like to take wheelchair dancing? – I’m extremely competitive with an all or nothing attitude and feel anything less is a waste of time. “If you’re going to do it, DO IT!” In the short term, I’m aiming to move out of ‘Debutante’ to the next level and become an “Amateur” level dancer, with the long-term goal of competing for Team GB at top level. Since I was a little girl I’ve dreamed of competing in the Paralympics and fingers crossed that’s on track for Paris 2024!
Our FREE wheelchair dance classes take place every Wednesday evening at Trinity Sports Centre, Manchester.
Returning World Champions stole the show at the first World Para Dance Sport competition of the year, which concluded on Sunday 1st April in Cuijk, Netherlands.
The Cuijk 2018 Para Dance Sport international competition saw 14 medal events, with Ukrainian dancers topping the medals table with nine golds.
Our own Paula and Gary unfortunately couldn’t compete due to illness; however, Gary accompanied our members Lloyd and Goz who represented Great Britain on both Saturday and Sunday in the Debutante competitions.
They surprised themselves by taking Silver Medal on Saturday in the Debutante Combi Class 1 against 7 other couples from 3 countries. This was their first major outing onto the international circuit following the smaller Mainhattan Cup in Frankfurt in 2017.
They kept up their footwork and wheel work on the Sunday by repeating their success with a 2nd Silver Medal again in Debutante Combi Class 1, this time against 8 couples.
Gary said, “We’re really proud of the hard work they have put in and all the extra practice they do each week has paid off.”
They are looking forward to a return to the Mainhattan Cup in May to repeat their success as GB Debutante Athletes.”
The main World Para Dance Sport competition was dominated by Ukraine with Olena Chynka taking Golds in the women’s single and single freestyle class 2. She added a further 2 Golds with dance partner Oleksandr Onischenko in the duo Latin and standard, both that combined 1 and 2 classes.
Belgium fared well with Sofie Cox taking Bronze in Single Freestyle Class 2 and Duo Standard 2 with partner Sander Deckx, they also took home Silver in the Duo Latin 2.
Double-reigning World Champions, Philippines’ Rhea Marquez and Julius Obero won the combi Latin 1 and 2 combined and the Combi Freestyle 2.
Belarusian World Champions Hanna Harchakova and Roman Usmanov were the strongest couple in the Combi Standard 2. Dutch duo Sharon Schleepen and Alex Glijn, and Japan’s Ito Katsushi and Shuto Tomomi took Silver and Bronze respectively.
This was the 30th year of the Holland Dans Spetakel with over 23 countries in attendance either as competitors or officials – the most countries ever at a Para Dance Sport event.
You can view photos from the competition on our Facebook Page.