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‘Sporty Saturday’ at the Manx Museum – with Paralympian Ian Sharpe 8 September 2011

Ian Sharpe and pilot Paul Hunter in action
Ian Sharpe and pilot Paul Hunter in action at the Paralympic World Cup meet in Manchester, 2005 © Larry Hickmott.
To celebrate the launch of the new interactive sporting exhibition, ‘Our Sporting Life’, Manx National Heritage is delighted to announce that the Isle of Man’s most successful Olympian, Ian Sharpe, will be delivering a free talk and Q&A session at the Manx Museum on Saturday 24th September at 2:00pm.

During the afternoon Ian will speak about his amazing sporting career, which has seen him representing Great Britain at the Paralympics on five separate occasions at both swimming and cycling events, winning five Silver and five Bronze medals to date. As a visually impaired athlete, Ian will explain the struggles he has faced to train, compete, secure funding and to gain respect as an elite athlete during his sporting career. He will also reveal his aspirations for London 2012 and perhaps even demonstrate his phenomenal talent on the exhibition’s interactive Watt bikes!

Ian began training seriously as a swimmer at the age of twelve when he joined the national development programme. After achieving success at European and World Championship level he was selected to represent Great Britain at the Seoul Paralympics 1988, where he won a Silver and two Bronze medals, and became the first British disabled athlete to break the one minute barrier for the 100m freestyle. Further Silvers were to follow in the next three Paralympics in Barcelona, Atlanta and Sydney in 2000.

In 2003 Ian made the switch to cycling when he met Paul Hunter while looking for a potential tandem pilot. The pair qualified for the Athens Paralympics in 2004 and achieved the remarkable feat of winning a Bronze medal in the Men’s Individual Tandem Pursuit and another in the Men's Tandem Kilo at their first Games together. Even greater success followed in 2005 when Ian and Paul became double World Champions in the same events and also picked up a Silver in the road time trial.

Ian, who is currently training hard to qualify for the London 2012 Paralympic Games, said;

“Most people will have a pretty good idea about the kind of dedication, commitment and training involved to become the best in the world in any sport. While I will cover this briefly during my talk, I am primarily hoping to give people an insight into the less well publicised side of being an international athlete - the stuff you don't see on TV. For example, what you do when you're not training, what it's like in the Olympic village, logistics, dealing with injury and frustration, and more recently in my case, how to balance work and family life with my desire to win the only international medal missing from my collection, a Paralympic Gold. Charting my life story, from Ramsey boy to becoming a six-time world champion, my talk will focus on these issues, as well as looking at disability sport and how it has changed over the past 25 years.”

This event marks the first of Manx National Heritage’s ‘Sporty Saturdays’ programme, which will be held once a month for the yearlong run of the ‘Our Sporting Life’ exhibition. Visitors will be able to meet athletes featured in the exhibition, learn more about particular sports enjoyed on the Island, take part in Body Shack’s Fitness Challenge, enjoy an exercise class or simply learn more about the history of sport on the Isle of Man.

The ‘Our Sporting Life’ exhibition celebrates the achievements of the Island’s modern and historic sports stars, whilst simultaneously saluting all aspects of sport on and from the Isle of Man. The exhibition explores themes such as what inspires our Island’s sporting stars to follow their dreams, what motivates ordinary people to go to extraordinary lengths for their sport and seeks to showcase future sporting talent.

For further information about ‘Our Sporting Life’ or ‘Sporty Saturdays’ please contact Katie King, on (01624) 648035.

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