22nd November 2012
Paralympic F51 discus gold medallist Josie Pearson (coach: Anthony Hughes) is in no doubt that Paula Dunn will be an instant success after being announced as the new Paralympic Head Coach yesterday.
Dunn assisted the newly-appointed Olympic Head Coach Peter Eriksson to Britain’s most successful Paralympic Games ever this summer, and Pearson believes that the former 100m European bronze and Commonwealth silver medallist has the qualities to guide Britain to even more medals in four years time.
“I’m was so happy to hear of Paula’s appointment as Head Coach. I’ve worked with her through the Paralympic programme and training camps, and I get on with her really well. She’s incredibly professional, knowledgeable and experienced within coaching, so I’m really pleased she’s been given the position.
“I think the next four years are going to be really exciting and I think we will be even more successful in Rio, so I’d like to extend my congratulations to her.
“Peter had very strong views on how he wanted things to run, and I think Paula will continue to do that. He was all about bringing athletes together as one united team, and I think Paula will want to carry that on and bring that extra fresh angle on things.”
Pearson also believes that Dunn’s appointment could be crucial in paving the way for more women to reach the pinnacle of their given sport.
“I think it shows that women in sport are continuing to excel, so to have a female figurehead as Head Coach is the icing on the cake. Sometimes women feel sport isn’t accessible, but there are so many opportunities out there, so I’d like to think more women will get involved at all levels.
“Paula has a huge amount of respect in athletics. She’s worked a lot with the development side of things, nurturing athletes right from the beginning and helping them through the system, so I think having that familiarity with Paula at the helm is definitely a positive.”
Pearson herself has shown the grit and determination needed to make it to the very top, culminating in winning the sport’s most coveted prize. The 26 year old made the successful transition from wheelchair rugby, to sprinting to the field where she became one of this summer’s heroes winning gold in the F51 discus.
However, despite being a relative newcomer to the sport, the Bristol-born athlete is showing no signs of resting on her laurels and is setting her sights on double gold in Rio in 2016.
“There’s the World Championships next year, and I’ve only got myself to beat at the moment. I’ve sat down with my coach and planned out the next four years, but I am just looking to continue to improve.
“I’m very new to throwing and both my coach and I feel that there is so much ground that I haven’t covered, so many improvements to make. Even up until a week before London, I was trying new things out, which sounds crazy, but that’s how new I am to the sport and how exciting the next four years will be. The aim is to retain gold in Rio, but obviously I do club throw as well, so my long-term goal is to win double gold.”