Support through Sport UK spoke to Paul Doling from the Dwarf Sport Association UK (DSAuk) ...
 
Hello Paul. Thanks for speaking to us. So what are the aims of the DSAuk?
 
The DSAuk's aims and objectives are to:
* Promote and develop sport for persons of restricted growth and to enable them to enter and compete in sport on an equal footing.
* Promote recreational sport for the the benefit of any persons of restricted growth.
* Promote competitive sport for dwarf athletes both in the United Kingdom and internationally.
* Provide opportunities for dwarf athletes to train for, and compete in, the World Dwarf Games, the Paralympic and the Olympic Games.
 
How did the DSAuk come about; so what are its origins?
 
The DSAuk started in 1993 when Arthur Dean, a person with restricted growth, took his daughter Nichola, who also has restricted growth, to Chicago to take part in the first World Dwarf Games hosted by the DAAA (Dwarf Athletic Association of America). They were accompanied by four other dwarf athletes and members of their families and, between them, they returned with 26 medals in total.
 
On their return to this country, Arthur discussed with the families the possibility of setting up an athletic association for dwarfs in this country. What they saw and felt whilst in the States was something they had not come across before. They saw for the first time that people of restricted growth were competing in sport on an equal level. In doing so, their self-esteem was lifted and the people taking part gained a great sense of achievement. This idea was very well received, and in October 1993 the Dwarf Athletic Association UK was formed. The association has later been renamed the Dwarf Sports Association UK (DSAuk) to cover the full breath of sporting activities that we now offer our restricted growth members.
 
Do athletes with a restricted growth condition or drawfism benefit from regular exercise?
 
Athletes with a restricted growth condition, or dwarfism, benefit greatly from regular exercise and competition. The majority of athletes with a restricted growth condition, or dwarfism, can undertake most of the sports that able-bodied athletes can - but some sports and activities are not recommended as people with restricted growth have quite lax joints and their elbows, hips and knees, especially, can be very unstable. Sport and regular exercise is a very good way to regulate people's weight especially as people with restricted growth can sometimes struggle with portion sizes for meals. A healthy body helps to keep you mind healthy and hopefully helps you live a longer, happier life.
 
Can you tell us a bit more about the World Dwarf Games and the DSAuk National Games?
 
The DSAuk National Games is an annual event that takes place normally the first bank holiday weekend in May in and around the Birmingham area. This year will be our 20th Anniversary National Games. The event is open to all DSAuk members from pretty much all ages, last year we had two year-olds competing through to about 60 year olds. There are numerous events that occur throughout the weekend, normally there is track and field, swimming, shooting, powerlifting, table tennis, new age kurling, cycling, hockey, basketball and football. We encourage our members to participate in as many events as possible to get the full benefit from the weekend. The wide range of events hopefully encourages all of our members to participate, from the less able to the more able and from the highly competitive and experienced to the beginner.
 
The World Dwarf Games occurs every four years. The last games were in Belfast in 2009 and the next ones will be in Michigan this year, 2013, in August, and will be the sixth World Dwarf Games. This event is open to all athletes with a restricted growth condition, no matter what sporting ability they have. The event this year will run for a week with numerous sports and promises to be the largest event of its kind with over 500 athletes expected to attend from more than 25 nations.
 
Although both of these events are highly competitive, they are both open to all athletes with restricted growth - no matter what their sporting ability. This is because the DSAuk wants to encourage its members to come, attend and find sports where they can compete on a level playing field and realistically aspire to realistic targets. Once members attend these events, their self-confidence and self-esteem sky rockets so not only are they keeping fit but their quality of life improves!
 
If anyone reading this is inspired to try out a particular sport, or sports, in their local area, where can they find out more?
 
The DSAuk is a national charity but it also runs eight regions all over the UK which look to organise more regular local sporting events to encourage members to undertake sport and stay healthy. If you are interested in a particular sport, or becoming a member, then please visit our website: www.dsauk.org, like our Facebook page: www.facebook.com/DSAUK or follow us on Twitter: @dwarfsportDSAuk. All our local events are publicised by email and through our social media pages.
 
Are we right in thinking that the DSAuk's Patrons are Ellie Simmonds and Matt Whorwood?
 
The Patrons of the DSAuk are both Ellie Simmonds and Matt Whorwood. Both of them won medals at the Paralympics in 2009 and then again in London 2012. Ellie has been a member from a very young age and as you can see from the picture below, a winner from a very young age. Now, due to her hectic schedule, she is not able to compete at the National Games - but whenever she can she returns to help out the younger members (as can be seen in the second picture).
 
 
 
And, finally, what are your favoured sports and is it true that you once appeared on They Think It's All Over?!
 
My favourite sports are football and cycling, but I do still try and compete in most sports at the National Games and will compete in most sports in Michigan at the World Dwarf Games this year.
 
I have indeed appeared on They Think It's All Over in about 2005 after the World Dwarf Games in France. The Great Britain football team had come back as World Champions and I was the goalkeeper. It was great fun and we ended up getting to bundle Ian Wright as you can see here.
 
Thanks very much for talking to Support through Sport UK, Paul, and it was lovely to catch up!