POLITICAL leaders of Wales took part in a different type of race this week, testing their limits in a static bike-ride inside the Senedd to promote inclusivity for disabled sports in the country.
Welsh Conservatives leader Andrew RT Davies joined the First Minister of Wales Carwyn Jones and leader of UKIP Wales Neil Hamilton, in support of charity Leonard Cheshire Disability.
Research carried out by the charity suggests there is as much appetite for sport and exercise amongst disabled people as there is in the wider population, but barriers to participation make engaging in such activities a major challenge. 57 per cent of disabled people are doing no sport or exercise, compared to just 24 per cent of non-disabled people. 41 per cent of disabled people say there are no opportunities suitable for them.
A total of 20 Assembly members and ministers took their turns on the static bikes, specially-adapted for use by disabled people, to see how far they could pedal in 100 seconds.
The overall winners were Conservative AM Darren Millar and Plaid Cymru AM Bethan Jenkins, who both cycled 1.3km in one minute and 40 seconds.
The event follows Leonard Cheshire’s ‘Tour de Cymru’, a 350 mile bike ride across Wales that took place last month. The challenge was taken on by nine amateur cyclists, who between them raised over £10,000 for disabled access to sport in Wales.
Neil Heslop, chief executive of Leonard Cheshire Disability who also took part in the event, said: “At Leonard Cheshire, we are passionate about working for a society in which every person is equally valued. We believe that disabled people should have the freedom to live their lives the way they choose, with the opportunity and support to live independently and participate fully in society.
“A big part of this is making sport as accessible as possible.”