Cornish athlete bags European record

Former Truro and Penwith College Sports Diploma student, Ben Oliver, has broken the European record for wheelchair racing event, the T33 800m.

Former Truro and Penwith College Sports Diploma student, Ben Oliver, has broken the European record for wheelchair racing event, the T33 800m. 

Setting a time of 2:22.57 minutes at the IPC Athletics Grand Prix in Nottwil in Switzerland, the Paralympian is now classed as the number one in the world for the distance and fourth in the world for the T33 400m.

Only getting into the sport in 2013, Oliver was inspired by equipment bought by Truro and Penwith College, which secured more than £5000 of funding from Sport England’s ‘Get Equipped’ campaign.

‘Get Equipped’ was established to create and develop new sports opportunities for disabled young students.

The funding was used to purchase new inclusive sports equipment, including an upper body ergometer (hand cycle), which helps wheelchair users to train to participate in cardio-vascular activities.

“The equipment really inspired me to take on the racing chair,” Oliver explained.

“It’s great to have Sport England fund this type of machine and Truro and Penwith College has really helped me challenge myself and become the best athlete that I can.”

Supported by Truro and Penwith College Academy Coach Michelle Penhaligon, Oliver began training at the local running track, before being coached by Graham Brett from Newquay & Par Athletics Club.

Oliver is also grateful for the help he has received from sponsors, especially Nigel Wiggett of Bridge Bike Hire in Wadebridge, who funded the racing chair used to set the new European record.

T33 is one of eight classifications for athletes with cerebral palsy, but the T33 800 metres is not being represented at the Rio Olympics this year.

Oliver is hoping it will be eligible for the Tokyo Olympics in 2020.

To find out how the College’s sports facilities and programmes can help you, contact 01872 267000 or enquiry@truro-penwith.ac.uk