BT supports Nathan Stephens and British Sledge Hockey Association in their bid for a place at 2014 Winter Paralympic Games

BT has today announced a partnership with the British Sledge Hockey Association to help the British team’s bid to compete at the Paralympic Games in Sochi next year. 

As a long-time supporter of the Paralympic movement in the UK, BT is supporting one of its BT Ambassadors, Nathan Stephens, and his British Sledge Hockey teammates, in their attempt to qualify for the 2014 Winter Paralympic Games. 

Nathan competed in the javelin competition at the London 2012 Paralympic Summer Games and has been part of the BT Ambassador Programme for four years. 

Before becoming one of the most elite Paralympic track and field athletes in the world, Nathan was passionate about sledge hockey and competed with the last GB team to reach the Winter Paralympics in 2006 in Italy.

Nathan and his British Sledge Hockey teammates are now aiming to compete in the 2014 Winter Paralympic Games in Sochi, Russia. 

However, to be invited to the Winter Paralympic Games, they must first compete in a qualifying tournament in Turin later this month and have asked for BT’s help to fund their preparations. 

The British team will compete in a six-team tournament in Turin between 20-26 October against Germany, Italy, Japan, Korea and Sweden. The three top-ranked teams at the end of the competition will then be invited to the Winter Paralympic Games in Sochi, Russia. 

British Sledge Hockey Association Elite Programme Director, John Neville, said: “BT is a long-time supporter of the Paralympic movement in the UK and supported Nathan with his athletics career. For them to come on board and support the sledge team is another example of their commitment to the progression of disability sport and really shows how far as a sport we have come in a short space time. The support from BT and all our corporate partners such as Planet Ice and Peter Harrison Foundation means that we can travel to Italy and give ourselves the best chance of making it to the Winter Paralympic Games.” 

BT Ambassador Nathan Stephens said: “BT has supported me for the past four years and when I told them that I really needed their help, they came good again. They have been involved with Paralympic sport for over 20 years and their support to me and my teammates means that we can go to Turin and try and secure a place at the Winter Paralympic Games. As a team we are in the best shape of our lives and we will be doing everything in our power to qualify for Sochi.” 

Suzi Williams, Group Marketing and Brand Director at BT said: “Nathan is a great example of someone who continues to strive forward. He had a disappointing London 2012 in the javelin competition but it demonstrates his depth of character that he is bouncing-back with the determination to try and make it to the Winter Games in Sochi. When we heard about the help that the British Sledge Hockey Association needed, we were happy to help”. 

BT is supporting the British Sledge Hockey Association with a grant to lessen the funding gap in the team’s preparations and will become an ‘Official Supporter’ to the team. 

BT will keep its 89,000 employees up to date with Nathan Stephens and his teammates’ progress through a range of internal and external communications activity. 


Notes to Editors: 
BT has supported the British Paralympic Association since 1989 when BT became the organisations first commercial partner. 
BT is committed to support the BPA until 2016. 
BT was the official communications services partner of the London 2012 Olympic and Paralympic Games 

British Sledge Hockey Association 
The British Sledge Hockey Association was formed in 1995 and is chaired by the Paralympian, Matt Lloyd 
It is the National Governing Body for Sledge Hockey for in the United Kingdom and is a member of the British Paralympic Association 
Since 2009 there has been significant growth in the sport of Sledge Hockey and there is now a national league with two divisions as well as several development programmes throughout the United Kingdom 
Sledge hockey is the Paralympic equivalent of ice hockey 
Britain started playing Sledge Hockey in 1981 (before Canada or USA) and first fielded a GB Team at a demonstration event in 1982 
At the 1994 Paralympic Games GB lost narrowly to Canada in the Bronze medal game 
Great Britain competed at both the 1998 and 2006 Paralympic Games 
Sledge Hockey is probably the only fully inclusive contact sport in the world. Although at Paralympic level players need to be classified disabled to participate, at club level anyone can play 
Unlike sports such as Wheelchair Basketball, Wheelchair Rugby and Sitting Volleyball there is no classification system dictating who can participate in play at any point. All players are equal once strapped to a sledge and there are no rules governing who can be involved in play and all non-IPC competitions are open to both disabled and able-bodied participants 
Since 2009 Sledge Hockey teams are of mixed gender, from club level through to Paralympic level. This differs from virtually every other sport which segregates teams based on gender.