Racing wheelchairs and training

Racing wheelchairs and training

Funding for new racing wheelchairs and training for Warwick Uni wheelchair racing squad. In particular a new racing wheelchair frame for Rob Smith an up and coming T52 wheelchair racer.

We did it!

On 23rd Oct 2013 we successfully raised £2,820 of £2,820 target with 44 supporters in 70 days

London Paralmympics legacy

London 2012 Paralympics made a huge impact on disability sport.  Since then many new athletes have have taken up disability sports and wheelchair racing in particular.  Warwick University wheelchair racing academy has seen an increase in the numbers and the quality of it's wheelchair racers since the London games.  The group wants to help new and existing racers get into the sport and improve all the way up to Paralympic selection for Rio 2016.  Warwick Uni Wheelchair racing acedemy train at Warwick Uni Westwood running track and are also part of the Coventry Godiva Harriers running club.  The wheelchair racers can boast one London 2012 paralympian, a world record holder, Dubai marathon winners, and holders of a number of British records.  They also have regular racers aged from only 7 years old up to late 40's.  In October they will also be joined by a Paralympic and world championships double gold medalist wheelchair racer.

Funding breakdown

This Crowd funding bid is to be split between one particular athlete - Rob Smith, and the rest of the club to help buy new racing equipment and training.  Racing wheelchairs are custom built to the users size and disability and are expensive, therefore 80% of any funding received will go towards a new race chair for Rob Smith (see details and cost breakdown below) with 20% going towards the group as a whole.  Most of the rest of this project description will deal with Rob Smith and his needs.  He is asking for £2820 which will fund the cost of a custom built frame for him to race in, however details are included for further costs including carbon disc wheels and further training costs should the £2820 target be exceeded.  Rob believes he can fund the shortfall which will go to Crowdfunder fees and the University group himself if the target figure is acheived.   


Rob Smith was born and went to school in Reading. After A-levels he went to Warwick University to Study Mechanical Engineering. Between his second and third years of university, whilst on holiday in Devon, he fell 40 feet into a concealed cave/gully and sustained a spinal cord injury. Rob underwent 9 months of recovery and rehabilitation at the spinal unit at Salisbury District Hospital. He returned to Warwick University a year later to finish his degree using a wheelchair to get around and able to walk short distances with crutches. His hand function was also severely affected with very little movement and strength in both hands.He now lives in Leamington spa with his wife and new baby. As well as a very busy training schedule he helps to run a small family business manufacturing gripping aids which he has designed and invented himself. These products assist other people with similar hand function disabilities to regain independence and enable them to use gym machines, free weights, and participate in many sports and leisure activities which would otherwise be impossible.

Sporting achievements

Before his accident Rob was a keen sportsman and played numerous sports at a good level. Within 1 year of his accident he had already tried several wheelchair sports and had started playing wheelchair rugby as his main sport. He played rugby to a high level for a number of years including being part of teams which won the British and the European club championships. He was also selected to be a member of the Great Britain development team which toured The US, Australia, Singapore and South Africa.Rob enjoys team sport but wanted an opportunity to shine as an individual. He decided to give wheelchair racing a go and borrowed then bought a second hand racing chair with the plan of working up to doing the London marathon. Having realised his potential as a wheelchair racer he managed to get some funding for a new custom built racing chair and recently switched from playing wheelchair rugby to concentrating on track racing. He was spotted by Tanni Grey-Thompson. She began to assist him with training along with her husband and coach Ian Thompson. Rob also had coaching input from the London Paralympic athletics coach Peter Eriksson. In a conversation with then head coach Peter Eriksson, Peter said to him “Rio 2016 will be your time”. Rob has been selected for UK Athletics talent I.D. programs and narrowly missed out on selection for the London 2012 Paralympic games. Rob trains at Warwick University and has recently been taken on by the new head GB wheelchair racing coach Jenni Banks. Jenni currently only coaches 3 athletes the other 2 being Paralympic T51 wheelchair racing finalist Steve Osbourne and 2 time Paralympic and World Championship T34 gold medallist and World record holder Hannah Cockcroft.Rob is classified as a T52 wheelchair racer. This means his disability affects him more severely than some wheelchair racers and will therefore compete in races on the track with other T52 athletes. Recently Rob has started gaining T52 wheelchair racing British records many of which have stood for 15 years. He now holds the T52 British records for the 400m, 1500m, 5000m, 10000m, half marathon and marathon and shares the record list with some big names from British wheelchair racing.See website link to British records


• To gain every single T52 British wheelchair racing record over every distance – including the shorter distances which are not his favourites. To continue to improve his own British records for the longer distances which he prefers.• To achieve selection for the European Championships in 2014. To gain experience racing at this high level and achieve making the finals at as many events as possible.• To continue to improve and move up the world rankings over the next few years winning some medals along the way.• To get selection for Rio 2016 and to medal in a number of distances at the 2016 games.

Sponsorship opportunities

Training, competing and equipment costs for Rob to achieve his goals are a prohibitive factor for him. He does not have a well off family, did not receive compensation for his disability and all costs are currently met by himself from the part time wage earned from running his small family business and his wife’s salary as a primary school teacher.There is an opportunity for individuals, organisations or companies to sponsor Rob from now until Rio 2016 and beyond to the Athletics world championships also held at the London Olympic stadium in summer 2017. There are a number of sponsorship levels to suit all budgets. As well as the feeling of satisfaction from being able to assist an up and coming disabled athlete achieve their goals and compete at high level in their sport Rob will do his best to “give back” to those who sponsor him in other ways. Please bear in mind that these are current sponsorship values and leaving sponsorship till nearer high level events may increase sponsorship amounts required due to increases in Rob’s profile as an athlete. Rob is interested in building good relationships with sponsors in the early stages of his racing career which he can continue to develop over time and as his career develops.Maintaining training and competing at a high level has high cost implications. Examples of some of the costs required are shown below. And a quote for the new racing chair he needs is attached at the end of this document.

Costs involved in Wheelchair racing

New racing wheelchair. £2820 – Rob’s current chair is 3 years old and is getting tired and worn from continual use. Also he needs to modify his seating position to get his knees lower and further back to improve the position of his arms and transfer of power to the push rims of the wheels.New carbon wheels. £2317.50 – Carbon fibre wheels are much lighter and run much more smoothly than spoked wheels. They reduce flex in the wheels and which enables all the power to be transmitted to drive the wheelchair rather than some being absorbed bending the spokes of the wheels. Rob is currently using some second hand carbon wheels that are now about 6 years old. The carbon is damaged in many places and technology has moved on and his wheels really need upgrading for him to increase his speed and power transfer.Other equipment – a set of high pressure tubular tyres for the back wheels cost between £50 and £80 per tyre and will last between a couple of weeks to a couple of months. Rob also needs tape, mouldable plastic and rubber for glove manufacture, bearings, lubricant, push rim covers and many other items that wear out or regularly need maintenance or replacement.Sports Massage. £40 per session – Recommended to be weekly but Rob currently affords to have one about every 3 to 4 weeks.Gym membership. £60 per month – Membership to a gym with good accessible equipmentFlights and hotels. £2000+ - Two to five overseas competitions per year needing flights, hotels, airport parking, food, etc.Track fee for training. £60 per year – Warwick University track yearly fee and membership to running club.Competition/race entry fees. £250 – competition and race entry fees.Travel and accommodation for events and races in the UK. £1000 – Petrol expenses, hotels and food in the UK.Travel to training in UK. £1000 – UK petrol expenses travelling to and from the gym and various local and UK Athletics training sessions.

Racing Wheelchair quote - Copied and pasted as I can't attach the document here.

Please see below quotation for your proposed new chair.Draft Mistral frame and fork with standard steerer, track compensator, damper, standard kneeler configuration, upholstery included.No wheels, brake or brake lever. £2195.00

Solid kneeler upgrade £175.00Removed camber bar (U shape to allow more room for feet) £ 250.00Aero steerer upgrade £ 40.00KCNC C7 brake £ 110.00KCNC machined lever to fit Aero Steerer £ 50.00Frame only total £2820.00

Corima Discs C+ 2D (4 hole drilling) £1350.00Ceramic bearings, full rear wheel setSilicon Nitride, sealed full ceramic £ 340.00Bare pushrims 14” (4 hole drilling) £ 100.00Tufo Elite 700c tubular tyres(110g) x 2 £ 170.00Go-ring rubber (supplied only, not fitted) £ 30.00

Corima Aero Carbon front wheel £ 290.00Front 20” tubular Panaracer Rapide 18mm (160g, saves 45g) £ 37.50Wheels only total £2317.50

Total excluding VAT: £5137.50

Please get in touch if you have any questions.Many thanksJon @ Draft Wheelchairs Ltd.

Please note fundraising is for the frame of the chair only (hence the £2820 target) and Rob will use his old wheels to race with.  This is unless the funding target it achieved and exceeded when funding can be used to help purchase the new carbon wheels as well.  The University of Warwick racing academy will benefit from 20% of total funds raised even if the target is exceeded. 

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