Peter_ErikssonThere was a justified media frenzy over the summer as we celebrated "Two years to go" to the London 2012 Paralympic Games, but as I write this we're just over two months out from the IPC Athletics World Championships in New Zealand.

This is hugely significant for many reasons; not least the fact that it's the last major Paralympic event at senior level prior to 2012. Perhaps more importantly however, as athletes fight to make it to the top of the podium, they're also making their case for funding support for one of the most important years of their lives so far in the countdown to London. It's more than just the medals.

Overall it's been an exciting year for Paralympic athletics in the UK and we've enjoyed some significant progress in the profile and integration of the sport through, among other things, increased high quality competition opportunities, enhanced media coverage and overall greater awareness.

Domestically, we were able to use the fast approaching 2011 World Championships as a hook to evolve our UKA Disability Athletics Challenge Series from a one-event pilot in 2009 to a three-event series in 2010 which concluded in the largest international Paralympic athletics event in the UK at Crystal Palace with 120 athletes from 19 different nations represented.

Without doubt the great competition and excellent venues - which included a new, fast Mondo track in the first meeting in Knowsley - contributed to a huge number of World Championships qualifying performances in the UK. This is something we've not previously had and our athletes definitely benefited from competing on home soil rather than travelling half way across the world to achieve those important qualification standards.

From a performance perspective, our athletes are already putting down impressive markers ahead of New Zealand, and for many, performances that will start their journeys to Paralympic Games in London 2012 and Rio 2016.

We took an 18-strong team out to the IWAS World Junior Championships in the Czech Republic in August and they returned with a medal total of 43, which was a brilliant achievement.

At senior level, Katrina Hart (pictured), Dan West and Gemma Prescott - all England - as well as Jenny McLoughlin - from Wales - won medals in the Commonwealth Games in Delhi to give us a great demonstration of their current form.

Operationally, one of the most significant appointments we've made this year is that of Hayley Ginn as UKA Apprentice Coach (Paralympic) for Sprints and Wheelchair Racing. Hayley's role is only the second position of its kind within the Paralympic movement in the UK and the fact that she's working across Olympic and Paralympic performance is evidence of our commitment to full integration and positions us as a world-leading country in the sport.

She'll be based at UKA's National Performance Centre at Lee Valley from today and will work with UK wheelchair racing expert Jenny Archer, coach to Paralympic Games multi-medallist David Weir, and me, and will develop and progress athletes across a variety of track-based Paralympic events.

When you consider that the medals won by our Paralympic athletes in Delhi contributed to the overall medal totals for their teams - something that hasn't always happened - integration is definitely becoming a key theme and is one that we want to continue to build on through to 2012 and beyond. We're moving in the right direction and we've stepped up to the mark as one of the leading countries in the world in Paralympic athletics.

None of this would be making headlines, however, without the much-needed increase in media attention. Overall there's greater interest in the sport across newspapers and online, but bringing Channel 4 on board as the official broadcaster for the Paralympic Games has been a really astute decision. Not only are they producing creative and innovative programmes but their enthusiasm and commitment to the sport has been impressive so far.

From a human interest angle they've really got to know our athletes, which in turn will help the general public get to know and like them, but from a performance perspective - which is ultimately the key - the programmes are already conveying the hard work, commitment and drive that is needed for athletes to succeed at this level, as in any elite sport.

It's a good move all round and interest in our sport is undoubtedly starting to build. We just need to ensure that as a team we give you all performances to shout about.

Peter Eriksson is UK Athletics Head Coach for the Paralympics and former coach to Chantal Petitclerc of Canada, the most successful Paralympic track and field athlete in history. In total, Peter Eriksson's athletes have won 119 medals in Paralympic Games. Now based in the UK, he coaches two of Britain's up and coming wheelchair racers, Hannah Cockroft and Josie Pearson, both of whom have been selected to represent the Aviva Great Britain and Northern Ireland team at the IPC Athletics World Championships in January 2011.