Inova Disability Sports Foundation (IDSF), who support disabled athletes around the world, has chosen to install Koller’s unique products to its ‘seated throw chairs’ used in sports like javelin and discus, bringing the frames up to the standards required by the International Paralympic Committee.
Koller, specialists in the design and manufacture of wheelchair accessible vehicle products, was chosen as the preferred supplier by IDSF head coach, Malcolm Wallace. “When IDSF took the decision to launch a new seated throwing chair I was given the responsibility due in part to my experience as a Paralympic coach and a field official of many years standing.
“I spent a number of months researching into the markets demands and also the technical requirement that would make the new chair meet the exacting standards and rules laid down by the International Paralympic Committee and could be used within a club environment for a wide range of club members,” said Malcolm.
One of the major problems to overcome when designing the chair was how to tie down the frame to ensure a safe and stable platform to throw from. The frame is placed in a throwing circle made of concrete and then tied down to the floor via four straps which are connected to the frame. This can get complex as athletes place their chair at varying angles dependant on whether they are throwing discus, javelin or shot.
Malcolm continues; “Various methods have been used in the past to anchor chairs, from hooks on each corner or a number of fixed fixings around the top of the frame but none of these methods were really satisfactory. When I was at a competition in Italy my team were transported in a disability vehicle and I noted how the wheelchairs were fixed to the floor, it was then that I decided to look into this method of fixing. On my return, I did extensive research and found Koller, whose products met the design requirements. As an engineer, I was further convinced when I found that the Koller products are manufactured in accordance to ISO 9001:2008 and undergo a strict testing regime to the latest European and International Standards with testing carried out at recognised independent and fully certified test houses.”
The prototype frame has recently been completed and has undergone field testing with International athlete Marie Hawkeswood a European and World medallist in javelin. The world athlete was extremely pleased with the finish and quality of the product but more importantly the safety standards that the product meets, especially the tie down arrangements as athletes need to feel secure and safe when throwing.
Marie is so pleased with the finished product that she has decided in conjunction with her coach Malcolm Wallace to donate her previous frame to the Dubai Disability Club and fit it with the Koller products.
Production has now started on the next five frames, one of which has been earmarked for former Afghanistan veteran Scots Guardsman, Dave Watson. Dave lost both his legs and one arm when he was caught in a blast from an IED and fought back to earn selection to compete and represent Great Britain in discus as a seated thrower at the Invictus Games due to be held in Ontario Canada in September. His frame will be modified to take into account his disability and allow him to take full advantage of the skills he has acquired over the last two years.
Head Coach Malcolm Wallace concluded: “I am delighted with the finished product and more importantly very grateful for the support given to us by Koller. Knowing that the products are produced to such a high standard will give the athletes full confidence to use their strength and power to win even more medals in the future.”