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Manchester wheelchair dancers bring home gold for GB

Posted on April 8, 2013

squareManchester dancers Gary Lyness and Paula Moulton swept to victory on Easter Sunday when they won the Amateur Latin title for the third time at the Dutch Open Wheelchair Championships, the largest wheelchair dancesport competition in Europe with over 150 couples competing, in Cuijk, the Netherlands.

Bringing home another gold medal for Great Britain, Gary and Paula were overwhelmed by their success at the two-day event. In the ballroom section, on the first day of the competition, the couple were marked straight through from the first round to the semi-final and went on to take second place overall.

“We were thrilled to get silver in ballroom as a great improvement on last year,” said Paula. 

They were even more ecstatic to win the Amateur Latin competition for the third year running and now hold three international Amateur Latin titles and two international Amateur Ballroom titles. They have also been the UK Amateur champions for the last two years and are set to become the UK’s first world-class competing couple in Latin wheelchair dancesport!

The pair’s trainer Ray Bulpitt said: “Gary and Paula have put in a tremendous amount of work and it has paid off.”

“It’s very exciting, but daunting to be entering the world-class arena after such a short time, but it is testament to our dedication and our trainer Ray Bulpitt,” said Gary.

The pair have been dancing since March 2010 after starting classes at the Ray Bulpitt Dancentre as part of a pilot scheme run in partnership with Manchester City Council and the NHS and continuing with local group Strictly Wheelchair Dancing.

Wheelchair dancesport is dancing with either one or both partners in a wheelchair (manual or electric). It is an extremely popular sport across Europe and countries throughout the world but has not made a big impact in the UK as yet. 

“We are determined to raise the profile of wheelchair dancesport in the UK as a sport and also as an alternative means of rehabilitation for wheelchair users, where partners or friends can interact on a more personal level, unlike some other wheelchair sports or rehabilitation methods,” said Gary, who is secretary of the Strictly Wheelchair Dancing Group.

 

Manchester also plays host to the only international wheelchair dancesport competition to be held in the UK. The Manchester Grand Prix Wheelchair Dancesport Championship will take place on Sunday, June 30 at the Wythenshawe Forum. The city will play host to competitors from at least ten European nations and spectators be able to see the world’s best wheelchair dancesport champions in action.
 

Photograph courtesy of Gary Lyness and Paula Moulton

 

Nicola Rayner was editor of Dance Today from 2010 to 2015. She has written for a number of publications including The Guardian, The Independent and Time Out Buenos Aires, where she cut her teeth as a dance journalist working on the tango section. Now acting editor of Discover Britain magazine, she continues to dance everything from ballroom to breakdance, with varying degrees of success.

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