Shelly delight at BAE games ‘deal’

Shelly Woods, a Paralympic wheelchair athlete in the wind tunnel at BAE Systems in Warton
Shelly Woods, a Paralympic wheelchair athlete in the wind tunnel at BAE Systems in Warton

A SILVER medal-winning paralympic athlete has welcomed the possibility of a new deal between BAE Systems and UK Sport to help top athletes.

Fylde-based Shelly Woods, 26, competed in the London 2012 games and finished second in the wheelchair marathon event.

She welcomed the news that the security giant is in talks with UK Sport about helping athletes across a range of sports, in particular with technological improvements, something she had the benefit of before last year’s games.

She said: “My first involvement came before the games, where I was able to test in the wind tunnel at BAE Warton as part of a project with gold medal wheelchair racer David Weir.

“It was a really valuable experience.

“As a racer it was great to have access to those facilities. It was weird in the sense that the tunnel is normally used to test Typhoon planes, but we only had a few months in the tunnel and you saw how well we did – just imagine if we had a longer amount of time.”

BAE has helped UK Sport to develop equipment for various athletes across 20 sports from wheelchair racing to taekwondo under a £1.5m agreement over the past four years.

The deal led to several medal wins at the 2010 Winter Olympics and London 2012, and it is hoped the new agreement could draw on the expertise of thousands of BAE Systems engineers whose work usually involves designing and manufacturing hi-tech military jets and submarines.

Any agreement would cover the 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi, Russia and the 2016 Olympics in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, where Shelly hopes to compete in more wheelchair events.

She added: “The advantages of the tunnel are great, clearly there is an element of aerodynamics to it, but also there is an aspect of retaining power and having the best positioning.

“You’re trying to find a happy medium and help improve performance.

“I hope to really take advantage of it. I am only 26 and I plan to go to Rio de Janeiro for the next Paralympics, and hopefully the event after that.”