So I guess I ought to start with an explanation of the name Paralympic Anorak! It’s quite simple really – ever since I started my PhD studies into societal perceptions of disability and disability sport back in 1999 I have become fascinated by and totally engrossed in the whole area of disability and Paralympic sport. I was at the time a member of the International Society of Olympic Historians (I’m now a life member) and one of the things that really struck me when I started my PhD studies was the poor state of knowledge regarding the history of the Paralympic Games. Ever since then I have travelled the world talking to former athletes and officials, copying any material or images they might have and buying anything interesting that might become available on a well-known internet auction site (including a gold medal from the very first Paralympic Games in Rome). All of this culminated in the publication of my latest book From Stoke Mandeville to Stratford: A history of the summer Paralympic Games. For those who are interested – yes I do intend to produce a winter Games version in due course.
It is perhaps fitting giving the close relationship between the Olympic and Paralympic movements that my initial interest in disability sport and the Paralympic Games in particular was sparked by a couple of my many visits to the International Olympic Academy in Greece where I sat in on lectures from a couple of Paralympic stalwarts – Dr Bob Price, now President of INAS – FID and Dr Robert Steadward, then President of the newly formed International Paralympic Committee. Ever since I’ve been hooked! It’s a fascinating area to work in, full of amazing people and hopefully through this blog I can introduce a few new converts to the field.
It continually surprises me, given that the summer Paralympic Games are the second largest multi-sport event on the planet after the Olympic Games (and disability sport one of the fastest growing job areas in the UK sports job sector over the last few years in preparation for London 2012) that the higher education sector still shows relatively little interest in carrying out teaching and research in this area. Don’t get me wrong – it is improving, but at a glacial pace! Through this blog, then it is my intention to do two things. Firstly to use excerpts from my latest book to take readers through a history of the Games and secondly to highlight various issues connected with disability and disability sport in order to both spark discussion and, hopefully, to get researchers, students, journalists, sports fans and anyone else with an interest to take a greater interest in a truly fascinating area of sport. Welcome to my world!