Congratulations and good luck to Personal Best Foundation trustee and treasurer Ali Smith and ambassador Emmanuel Oyinbo-Coker who have both been selected to the British team for the 2023 World Para Athletics Championships which takes place in Paris on July 8-17.
Oyinbo-Coker and Smith will represent GB and NI in one of the most exciting squads selected and gain a perfect warm-up to the Paralympics which will take part in the same venue in 12 months’ time.
The pair also perfectly illustrate what the Foundation is all about: achieving amazing things in life by using the power of athletics. And it is particularly exciting for Oyinbo-Coker, named for the 100m as he is one of nine debutants on the team. He said:
“I am extremely excited for this opportunity, as I have said in the past the disappointment of not getting selected for Tokyo Paralympics has really fuelled me to work harder and achieve greater things and this is just one step in the process, it shows me that I am making progress in my career and my dreams are slowly becoming a reality.”
His early support of the Foundation has been superb and he is a regular visitor to schools in Essex and London, but for now his focus is on Paris. “Training has been great,” he confirmed, excited to be heading to Paris next month.
“I’ve been building on the past two or three years of work, I remember the 2021 season I opened up with 12.34 now I am running 11.0 on a consistent basis The main thing for me this season is staying fit as I have been injured a few too many times this season so getting to the start line is my main priority.”
Talking about his support of the Foundation, Oyinbo-Coker said:
“It is amazing and shows what the Personal Best Foundation is all about
,not just words but actions from everyone involved. We are all in this journey together and all have different PBs, regardless of how far away we are from them what matters is how determined and resilient we are to reach them.”
Smith, a T38 category sprinter and a runner who was part of Paralympic GB’s silver medal-winning quartet in the Universal relay agrees with her teammate and fellow sprinter. The Foundation’s treasurer is not only a Paralympian, she’s also a successful business owner.
I feel very lucky I was able to access facilities and enjoy sport from a young age with very few barriers, but this is not the case for a lot of children and young people. For this reason, I am proud to represent the Personal Best Foundation who have set out to break down these barriers that prevent children and young people from being able to participate in athletics and give them opportunity to become immersed in the sport.”
And like Oyinbo-Coker, she is also excited about the form she is in currently.
“Training has been going really well and I'm really enjoying all aspects of it at the moment. There have been little setbacks on the way with small injuries, but I'm feeling grateful not to have been set back too much. I'm not working on one area in particular, but I guess there has been a bit more focus on the 400m rather than the 100m. It's starting to pay off as I ran a PB in Germany a couple of weeks ago.”
Head of Paralympic Performance at UKA and Team Leader for the Championships, Tom Paulson added: “I am really pleased that we have selected such a strong team for the World Para Athletics Championships. It is an important stage in the cycle leading into the Paralympic Games, so with just over a year to go until the Games, this will be a good indicator for athletes and their support teams as they continue their journey to Paris 2024.
“It is pleasing to see nine athletes receive their first call-ups to senior GB & NI teams, which shows the pathway is in a strong position. Earning a place in the team for the worlds and competing against the best on the global stage will be an invaluable experience for them.”