Liam_Harbison_Jan_28To be a Paralympian requires huge sacrifice, commitment, desire, ambition, and above all sporting excellence.

Paralympics Ireland, and all it represents, strives to match the excellence and abilities of Ireland's Paralympians.

The rebranding aims to modernise Paralympics Ireland for the next 50 years of Paralympic Sport in Ireland.

We are extremely proud of the tradition of achievement from Irish Paralympians.

As one of only 13 nations to compete in the first Paralympic Games in 1960 in Rome our great nation has competed in every Summer Paralympic Games since.

Now that the Movement has past its 50th birthday last year, we have to look forward.

The success of Ireland's Paralympic athletes hasn't come about by chance, but by planned progression in support services to athletes by governing bodies of sport, and increasingly by the Paralympic Council of Ireland since its remit changed from coordination to performance in 2002.

Some huge changes have taken place in the intervening years:

* We have regular multi-sport and sport specific training camps throughout the Games cycle.

* Detailed performance planning in a range of sports on an annual basis coordinated by Paralympics Ireland Performance staff.

* Increased numbers of personnel across Paralympic sports, including a staff of seven in Paralympics Ireland itself.

* An extensive system of sports science and medical service provision, provided by some of the finest sports science and medical professionals operating in Ireland.

* Team manager and coach support programmes

* Major increases in funding from Government and corporate partners

High performance sport costs. If we want Ireland's Paralympians to stand on the podium in London, Rio and beyond, we must invest in it. The immense assistance from the Irish Sports Council to date has assisted us hugely in bringing our sport to where it is today.

In an age of austerity, our levels of funding have remained constant, a recognition by the state in the prowess of Ireland's Paralympians.

However, as we move into the next chapter of the Irish Paralympic story our ambitions require further growth in support to sustain our long term success.

The response to our efforts to recruit a whole range of new partners into the Irish Paralympic family has been phenomenal.

To be in a position where 10 organisations invest in Paralympics Ireland in the height of a recession is a great leap of faith by our partners.

However, we aim to provide a substantial return on that investment with the performances of Irish athletes at the London 2012 Paralympic Games.

As with all NPCs worldwide, here in Ireland we place great value in the Irish Paralympic family. It has been our pleasure to welcome so many new corporate partners into our family in the last 12 months.


However, our new partners have brought more than just finance or product to our organisation - they've brought huge knowledge which they were more than willing to share with us.

As we move to develop the business side of Paralympics Ireland to sustain the growth of Irish Paralympic sport that knowledge has been invaluable.

One of the key reasons for the change to Paralympics Ireland and the launch of a new organisation logo have come from an extensive consultation with our partners, members and board.

They have told us that they love what we do, they love what we're about and what and who we represent. They have also told us however, that we needed a cleaner, fresher look, that's more reflective of the dynamism, ambition and success of Paralympic sport.

Additionally, the athletes debated the new logo concept at the Renault Ireland Team 2012 Camp in November from which they clearly stated their wish to wear the iconic Irish symbol of the "shamrock" on their chest in Paralympic competition.

Paralympics Ireland conducted an extensive awareness audit in mid-2010 which revealed a poor reach into the Irish psyche.

With our new look and name, backed by an extensive marketing strategy supported by our partners, we strive to ensure that the achievements of Ireland's Paralympic athletes will resonate with the nation of Ireland at London 2012 and beyond.

To complement the new name and look of Paralympic Sport in Ireland, we wanted to encompass the power, spirit and determination of Ireland's Paralympians in a short but extremely evocative tagline.

We felt the means to achieve this was by reflecting the emotional response one gives on viewing video footage of Paralympic athletes competing for Ireland on the world stage.

Irish Paralympic athletes continue to inspire us by their feats of performance excellence year after year and Games after Games.

There are no barriers to the level of achievement they aspire to.

We feel they are, and will continue to be, INSPIRING BEYOND BELIEF.

Finally, I referenced our great nation earlier. Despite the knocking our national reputation has taken in the international arena of late due to poor economic policies and banking system faults, our nation will bounce back.

We firmly believe in the power of sport to lead that fightback. Irish Paralympians are so proud to wear the green jersey of Ireland and will continue to do so in the coming years.

Paralympics Ireland and Ireland's Paralympians will inspire our nation beyond belief and will play a considerable part in making our nation great once again.

The London opportunity is huge - we intend to grasp it.

Liam Harbison is chief executive officer of the Paralympics Ireland