Competing in Wheelchair Dance Sport internationally is a world that lots of our members want to get the chance to do, we caught up with our current Team GB couple Paula Moulton and Gary Lyness who have completed their first full IPC season in 2016. Over the year, they’ve competed in 4 IPC competitions achieving great success and ending the year 9th in the Latin Combi Class 2 European Rankings.
Going into 2016, Paula and Gary were fighting fit after an unfortunate injury ridden 2015. The goal was to compete in two more competitions, of course this goal was exceeded. Preparing for a competition, Paula and Gary are “constantly” training and in the run up to the actual competition , mainly work on stamina and putting the choreography they’ve learned into practice.
April 30th, Suomi Open Championship hosted by the Finnish Wheelchair Dance Association, Team GB competed in the IPC Approved section of the event in Combi Latin and Ladies Singles. Placing 5th in Combi Latin Class 2, the couple were clearly pleased and impressed with the result and also noted “it’s one of the nicest floors we’ve ever danced on”.
Next we saw them compete in the Mainhatten Cup, held in Frankfurt, Germany. This was a tough competition, as they did not make the finals. They saw lots of new couples, meaning more competition that they weren’t quite expecting.
However, Paula and Gary did not waiver, they came back fighting in Hasselt, Belgium; a last minute decision to help them attain their ranking. Hoping to gain as many points as possible throughout the season, it was important to get as high as they could in the leaderboard. They placed 7th in Combi Latin Class 2 and Paula placed 7th in the Single Ladies.
Outside of being international competitors, Paula and Gary are also UK Instructors in their hometown of Manchester. In October, the WDSA (UK) ran the first UK National Championships in four years and Paula and Gary, brought two new couples from their club “Strictly Wheels” to the floor and saw incredible success. As a team they took home 5 golds and a silver medal and members were “overwhelmed” at their first wheelchair dance sport competition experience and absolutely loved it. For the future of their Strictly Wheels club in the UK they both said how they’d love to “continue development” of their couples in the sport.
A week after the UK Nationals it was the European Championships in Kosice, Slovakia. Team GB went with the support of the WDSA (UK) which Paula and Gary said “it was lovely to have the support, seeing what can be achieved in Europe”. They placed 8th in Combi Latin Class 2 and Paula placed 7th in the Single Ladies once again.
Reflecting on the year Team GB feel they’ve done themselves proud and have achieved their goals and they feel “it’s the primetime for Team GB to develop and maintain top 10 in Europe”. Paula and Gary have placed 15th in Combi Latin Class 2 in the World Rankings and 9th in Europe. Paula has placed 13th in Single Ladies Class 2 in the World Rankings and 8th in Europe. Since conducting this interview, they’ve competed in an Open Competition in Malta, taking gold for their Showdance.
WDSA (UK) Chief Executive, Patrick McGeough, says “After 2016 being very successful for Team GB, we are looking at opportunities to develop Team GB through 2017 and 2018.”
2017 looks to be a challenging year for Paula and Gary with IPC launching new a classification system that will jumble up the pack that they are used to competing against. This should mean they are dancing amongst a more level playing field with regard to level of disability.
The WDSA (UK) wish Team GB all the best for the 2017 season and look forward to working closely together.
Written by Iain Richards, Marketing and Media Officer, Wheelchair Dance Sport Association (UK).