Monthly Archives: May 2012

Scandinavians led the way in becoming the first to win medals at both a summer and a winter Paralympic Games!

It is perhaps not too surprising that all of the athletes named below as being the first in their impairment groups to win a medal at both a summer and a winter Paralympic Games all come from Scandinavian countries. After all, Scandinavia is the home of skiing and it was the Scandinavians who were the prime movers behind the instigation of the first winter Paralympic Games in Örnsköldsvik in Sweden in 1976. Below is a list of athletes who, according to my research, were the first in their impairment category to win a medal at both a summer and a winter Paralympic Games. They are broken down by impairment category in the order that the impairment categories were added to the winter Paralympic Games programme. The years next to each impairment category heading denote the year in which that impairment category first took part in a winter or a summer Paralympic Games.

Amputees (First Games: Winter – 1976, Summer – 1976)

Raimo Hiiri (FIN) – Cross Country Skiing and Athletics

Örnsköldsvik 1976 (1 gold, 2 bronze)          Toronto 1976 (1 gold, 3 bronze)

Blind and Visually Impaired (First Games: Winter – 1976, Summer – 1976)

There were actually four athletes who managed to complete this feat in 1976. They include the only woman in the whole list – Reidun Laengen of Norway.

Terje Hansen (NOR) – Cross Country Skiing and Athletics

Örnsköldsvik 1976 (1 gold, 2 bronze)                        Toronto 1976 (1 silver)

                                                                                                     New York (1 gold)

Jarle Johnsen (NOR) – Cross Country Skiing and Athletics

 Örnsköldsvik 1976 (2 gd, 1 silv)     Toronto 1976 (1 gd, 1 silv,  1 bze)

                                                                        Arnhem 1980 (1 gold)

Martti Juntunen (FIN) – Cross Country Skiing and Athletics

Örnsköldsvik 1976 (1 silver)                           Toronto 1976 (1 silver)

Geilo 1980 (1 bronze)                                    

Innsbruck 1984 (3 silver)

Reidun Laengen (NOR) – Cross Country Skiing and Athletics

Örnsköldsvik 1976 (1 gold, 2 silver)              Toronto 1976 (1 gold)

Spinal Cord Injury (First Games: Winter – 1980, Summer – 1960)

Two athletes managed to complete this feat when spinal cord injured athletes competed for the first time in a winter Paralympic Games in Geilo, Norway in 1980, both having won summer Paralympic Games medals in earlier summer Games.

Rolf Johansson (SWE) – Ice Sledge Speed Racing, Ice Sledge Hockey, Wheelchair Curling, Wheelchair Basketball and Athletics

Geilo 1980 (2 bronze)                         Heidelberg 1972 (1 bronze)

Lillehammer 1994 (1 gold)                 Toronto 1976 (1 gold)

Nagano 1988 (1 bronze)                      Arnhem 1980 (1 silver)

Torino 2006 (1 bronze)                       Stoke Mandeville 1984 (1 silver, 1 bronze)

                                                                       Seoul 1988 (1 silver)

Veikko Puputti (FIN) – Ice Sledge Speed Racing and Archery

Geilo 1980 (2 gold)                             Toronto 1976 (1 silver)

Innsbruck 1984 (3 gold)

Cerebral Palsied (First Games: Winter – 1984, Summer – 1980)

Siw Kristin Vestengen (NOR) – Cross Country Skiing and Athletics

Tignes 1992 (1 silver, 1 bronze)          Seoul 1988 (2 gold, 1 silver)

Lillehammer 1994 (1 gold, 1 silver)

Nagano 1998 (2 bronze)

Salt Lake 2002 (1 gold, 3 bronze)

Les Autres (First Games: Winter – 1984, Summer – 1984)

Jouko Grip (FIN) – Cross Country Skiing, Biathlon and Athletics

Geilo 1980* (3 gold)                                       New York 1984 (2 gold)

Innsbruck 1984 (3 gold)

Innsbruck 1988 (1 gold, 3 silver)

Tignes 1992 (2 gold, 1 silver)

Lillehammer 1994 (1 gold, 1 silver)

*Competed in the ‘spinal cord injury category’        

Intellectually Disabled (First Games: Winter – 1998*, Summer – 1992)     

*Demonstration events were held in Tignes 1992 and Lillehammer 1994

Due to being banned from the Paralympic Games following events in Sydney 2000 intellectually disabled athletes have only competed in a winter Paralympic Games with full medal events once in Nagano 1998 where they competed in three male and three female cross country events. No intellectually disabled athlete has yet, therefore, managed to win a medal at a summer and a winter Paralympic Games.

NB. Every effort has been made to ensure the accuracy of this information, but given the poor state of the records and results for early Paralympic Games it may be that there are others that should be added to the above list, but have been omitted from original results.

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Changing attitudes to disability – is targeting children the best way forward?

The quote from Bob a former Paralympian, below, typifies the views of many of the participants in research that I carried out when doing my PhD regarding the value of athletes with disabilities going into schools, mainstream and special, to discuss their experiences as both athletes and people with disabilities:

“I think with more visits to schools and such like I think attitudes will be turned around and the next generation of administrators and journalists and so forth will have their eyes open and will be aware of what Paralympians, people with disabilities, whatever, are capable of.”

(Bob)

Although this approach to changing perceptions regarding people with disabilities may be a much more long-term approach (as opposed to trying to change the perceptions of the current adult population) and results might not be perceivable for a considerable amount of time, the long term benefits to people with disabilities and society as a whole may be far greater. Young children tend to be far more open to new ideas and are far less likely to have strongly internalised views regarding disability. This idea would appear to be backed up by research reported in New Society (1985) and cited by Barnes (1994), which was based on a photographic study and showed that children did not appear to react in a negative manner to people with looks outside the ‘norm’ until they were at least eleven years old. On the basis of this, the report concluded that ‘discrimination against funny looking people’ is not some innate result of evolutionary forces, but is a socially learned phenomenon (New Society cited in Barnes, 1994; p. 197). Therefore, if discrimination is socially constructed it should be possible to construct a more positive view of people with disabilities within young children. In this way they will also be more aware of and better able to challenge the presence and dominance of the medical model discourse, which will hopefully, in time, lead to a weakening of its hold over the rest of society. If future generations of administrators, event managers, coaches and media people (to name but a few) grow up with more positive internalised views towards disability than previous generations this can only be a good thing for people and athletes with disabilities. This may be a slow process, but may also lead to a more lasting change in perceptions. The benefit of this approach is also that if successful with each succeeding generation the dominance of the perceptions embedded in the medical model discourse should weaken and along with them so too should the societal barriers faced by people and athletes with disabilities. This is not to say, however, that we should give up trying to change the perceptions of the current generations who may have strongly internalised views regarding disability that stem from the medical model discourse.

Barnes, C., 1994, Disabled People in Britainand Discrimination (2nd Ed.), Hurst & Co,London.

 

Disability, Language and Sport

Language is, at its most simple, just a series of words or characters. It is the meanings attached by humans to these words or characters that makes language important. One function of language is communication, but in communicating humans also, more often than not, convey the underlying meaning behind the words or characters used. It is also claimed that language plays a key role in politics, domination and control. The meanings attached to the words or characters used are socially constructed within the social or cultural group within which an individual grows up and develops. Therefore, there can be major differences in the perceived meanings of words such as disability, disabled and even what constitutes sport, dependent upon the social and cultural group within which an individual learns their proscribed meanings. However, as some social groups and cultures within a given society are more powerful or have more influence than others one set of meanings for these words may gain dominance, even over those meanings proscribed by the group they refer to. This power struggle, which is predominantly between powerful groups within the non-disabled majority such as the medical profession and policy makers and those with economic and political power and influence and those with the greatest understanding of the impacts of disability and disabling language – people with disabilities themselves, goes on in all aspects of society. However, the sporting arena where the disabled body is perhaps most visible to the world, is a key area in which this struggle to change non-disabled perceptions of disability and in turn their proscribed meanings for the language they use when discussing disability.

Today’s mainstream sports organisations, sports media, sports sponsors and the overall sports industry place an extensive focus on non-disabled athletes and non-disabled sports. Whilst sports opportunities for persons with disabilities continue to emerge in many international communities, athletes with disabilities and disability-specific sports largely remain segregated and invisible from the mainstream sports environment. Ableism is defined as discrimination in favour of the non-disabled and against people with disabilities. Historic and current barriers and prejudices have reinforced the marginalisation of persons with disabilities in sports. In the context of disability sport this prioritisation of able-bodied sport within society devalues sport for athletes with disabilities and potentially undermines much of the hard work done by disability activists to gain acceptance for people with disabilities in all walks of life. Thomas Hehir of the Harvard Graduate School of Education defines ableism as:

 the devaluation of disability…that results in societal attitudes that uncritically assert that it is better for a child to walk than roll, speak than sign, read print than read Braille, spell independently than use a spell-check, and hang out with non-disabled kids as opposed to other disabled kids.

(Hehir, 2002; p.2)

Ableism devalues people with disabilities and results in segregation, social isolation and social policies that limit opportunities for full societal participation. Unfortunately, persons with disabilities are also susceptible to internalising stereotypes and negative beliefs. This process is called internalised ableism and is similar to internalised racism and sexism regarding other devalued groups. Internalised ableism in sport is experienced by disabled athletes, coaches and administrators through their acceptance of the status quo and second-class status compared to non-disabled athletes and non-disabled sports. There are signs that things might be starting to change, particularly at the elite end of the sporting spectrum where athletes with disabilities are starting to become far more visible in many societies, but at the lower levels of sport and in many other areas of society the battle continues and probably will continue to do so for many years to come.

Hehir, T., 2002, Eliminating Ableism in Education, in The Harvard Educational Review, Spring 2002, Vol. 72(1); p1-32

 

Some Paralympic Trivia 1948 – 2008!

Stoke Mandeville 1948 -1959

Despite the fact that the Stoke Mandeville Games, which went on to become the Paralympic Games, were founded at Stoke Mandeville Hospital near Aylesbury in the UK a Great Britain team did not actually compete in the Games until 1958 – ten years after the Games first began. Prior to that British interests were represented by athletes from the various spinal units from around the country. Great Britain were actually only the 26th National team to compete in the Games!

Rome 1960

Mather-Brown (2002) and several members of the Australian team from Rome in a video commemorating the Rome Games made by the Australian Paralympic Committee (2010) claim the some of the officiating by the Italian officials in Rome was rather biased, particularly in fencing and basketball. As an example of this they claim that in basketball if their chair hit an Italian player’s chair they were accused of ‘charging’, but if an Italian player’s chair hit theirs they were accused of ‘blocking’.

Tokyo 1964

The Games organizers actually had three names for the Games. These were:

  • The International Stoke Mandeville Games (Dr Guttmann’s preferred choice)
  • The Tokyo Games for the Physically Handicapped
  • Paralympics (The Organising Committee’s preferred choice, because it sounded nice)

The Organising Committee actually produced three different sets of information for the Games, which were identical except for the name of the Games.

Tel Aviv 1968

Members of the German team, when applying for visas, had to complete a questionnaire about their political past e.g. – whether they had been de- Nazified and in what category, which was a national law in Israel at the time.

Heidelberg 1972

Heidelberg was the first time Kenya competed at the Paralympic Games. Kenya’s first ever Paralympic gold medal (and their only medal in Heidelberg) came in the men’s 25 m freestyle class 2 swimming event. It was won by John Britton, who had also won the gold medal for the same event in Tel Aviv four years earlier. However, on that occasion he was swimming for Great Britain and had moved to live in Kenya in the intervening years.

Heidelberg was the first Paralympic Games that a certain Philip Craven (now Sir Philip Craven) participated in for Great Britain. He took part in athletics, swimming and wheelchair basketball, a sport in which he went on to be President of the International Wheelchair Basketball Federation before taking up his current role as President of the International Paralympic Committee.

Toronto 1976

Toronto was the first Games in which other disability groups competed, which did not pass off without incident. On the evening of Friday 6th August Sharon Myers (29), an American paraplegic athlete and swimmer, was injured when a blind runner veered off the track and ran into her. Sharon suffered a seven stitch cut on her cheek, a black eye and a knee injury when she was thrown from her chair.

Arnhem 1980

Despite Stoke Mandeville being the spiritual home of the Paralympic Games the Games in Arnhem were the very first to have a programme made about them by the BBC. The 60 minute documentary was narrated by former rugby union player Cliff Morgan who had himself spent a year in a rehabilitation centre following a stroke ten years earlier and was broadcast on BBC1 at 7.00pm on the 17th July.

New York 1984

New York was the very first time that China had competed in the Paralympic Games and it was all down the hard work of a British ex-patriot, David Griffiths, who was working at the time as General Manager of the Jubilee Sports Centre in Hong Kong. David, a former manager of Wembley Stadium, ran almost fifty miles a day for over fifty days from Beijing to Hong Kong and raised nearly two and a half million dollars in the process. This money was then used to send a team from Hong Kong and a team from China to the Games in New York, as well as to kit them out.

Stoke Mandeville 1984

The Olympic flag as well as the flags of all of the competing nations were hung out in Aylesbury Market Square from Monday 16th August. Within 48 hours the Olympic flag had been stolen and the flags of Jamaica and Italy had been taken down, ripped up and posted through the letter box of a nearby public house. However, it was possible to repair these two flags and re-hang them, only for them to go missing again, along with the flags of Iceland and Ireland, within 24 hours. It cost £135 of tax payers money to replace the missing flags.

Seoul 1988

Seoul was the first Paralympic Games the Soviet Union had ever taken part in. Team manager, Olga Bogdanova, put their participation down to the broad social changes and re-structuring going on in the Soviet Union at the time under the leadership of Mikhail Gorbachev. However, the team consisted only of 22 blind athletes as sport for other disabilities was not yet properly developed within the Soviet Union.

Barcelona 1992

The first three positive doping tests ever recorded at a Paralympic Games occurred in Barcelona. They were a shot putter, a judo player and a wheelchair basketball player from the USA, David Kiley, whose positive test for a banned substance led to the disqualification the American men’s wheelchair basketball team who had won the gold medal in Seoul and a request for the whole team to return their medals in order that they could be re-distributed to the Dutch team they had beaten in the final.

Madrid 1992

Britain’s 5-a-side football quarter final against host nation and tournament favourites Spain was mired in controversy with five players being booked, one being sent off and the match lasting a total of two hours and twelve minutes. With Spain leading 2-0 Britain had defender David Haston sent off for a second bookable offence, but still managed to fight back and win 9-8. British Coach David Agnew wrote to the organising committee after the game to complain about the standard of officiating at the game and demanding to know why the clock had been stopped every time the ball went out of play, which had not happened in any of their previous games.

Atlanta 1996

Organisers of the Atlanta Paralympic Games had to pay $1million to get the Games broadcast on American television. This is in stark contrast to the $456million paid to the organisers of the Atlanta Olympic Games by NBC for the rights to broadcast them on American television.

Sydney 2000

When the two Independent Paralympic Athletes, Mateus Lucas and Alcino Pereira, from East Timor were entering the Paralympic Village through one of the security check points Police Senior Constable Barry Parrish noticed whilst checking their bags that they had nothing in them. With the help of friends and local businesses Barry collected donations including clothing, toiletries, travel bags and other personal items to give to the athletes in order to make their stay more comfortable and a lot warmer.

Athens 2004

Twelve year old Jessica Long, a double leg amputee from the USA won three gold medals in the pool. Long was born in a Siberian orphanage and later adopted by an American family. She had both legs amputated at 18 months old, but made the US Paralympic team after competing for only two years.

Beijing 2008

In her fifth Paralympic Games 53 year old Barbara Buchan from the USA won her first Paralympic gold medal when she won the women’s 3 km individual pursuit LC3-4/ CP3 category setting a new world record in the process and becoming the oldest cycling champion at the Beijing Games.

For more trivia or information regarding  the summer Paralympic Games please see:

Brittain, I., 2012, From Stoke Mandeville to Stratford: A history of the summer Paralympic Games, Commonground Publishing; Champaign, Il.

The London 2012 Paralympic Games and Higher Education – Will Prejudice or Progress Prevail?

As London 2012 draws ever closer an increasing number of industry sectors including tourism, sport, health, business and management to name but a few are putting on conferences and events themed around the Olympic Games as a vehicle for capturing public interest as well as perhaps rejuvenating creative thinking and new developments within their sector. When discussing industry sectors this does, of course, include the higher education sector, which cuts across all the sectors mentioned above. At the interface between the education and industry sectors, the former provides research data and development suggestions for the industry sectors, as well as a large proportion of the next tranche of staff that will enter these sectors. However, despite the fact that London 2012 will be the first host city that IOC bidding regulations dictate must host the Paralympic Games if they are to host the Olympics, and despite the fact Britain is the birthplace of the Paralympic Games there still appears to be relatively little interest shown in them by the higher education sector in terms of conferences, research or teaching. If the hosting of the of the London 2012 Paralympic Games is to have a positive impact in the Higher Education sector then it is imperative that we ensure that progress prevails over prejudice.

Depending on what definition is used for ‘disability’ at least ten percent of the world’s population is ‘disabled’ in some way. That’s six hundred million people worldwide. According to the Spring 2000 Labour Force Survey 7,004,000 UK residents of working age (16+) are disabled (UK Sport, 2000; p.6), which equates to around 15.5% of the population who are of working age. Devine (1997) claims that society has a prescribed set of standards by which we are all measured and when someone’s biological make-up or function fails to meet these standards they are ‘assumed to be inferior and are subject to a decrease in inclusion in society’ (Devine, 1997; p. 4). For many of the non-disabled population the prefix ‘Dis’ brings with it connotations of less able, less important and less worthy (Brittain, 2004). This is equally true of nearly all academic disciplines when it comes to both teaching and research, which at best make a token effort to include people with disabilities and the impact of those disabilities within a particular subject area, and often simply make no attempt at all. Sport, Leisure and Tourism appear to be no exception to this. In my previous post the department in which I worked included a tourism department that scored a four star rating (out of 5) in the last but one Research Assessment Exercise. It would be hoped, therefore, that it would be safe to assume that the section of the library dedicated to the study of tourism in all its guises at that particular university would contain a fairly comprehensive and representative cross section of up to date publications in the field, similar to other universities around the country that study tourism as an academic subject However, in going through the contents section of well over one hundred of these books, I found only three that made any mention of disability whatsoever. Two of these were sports tourism books. One contained a three page section entitled Sports Tourism for People with Disabilities, whilst the other contained three lines in 325 pages. The third book entitled Strategic Management in Tourism contained one short paragraph in 350 pages and included the line ‘the disabled increasingly expect to travel as public transport becomes more accommodating to their needs’. Why should people with disabilities not expect to travel? Shouldn’t their expectations for their lives be just the same as everyone else’s, irrespective of whether they have a disability or not? A review of the key texts currently used at some of Britain’s key institutions for the provision of degrees in the area of sports studies, sports management and sports development shows that they also make little or no mention of disability sport whatsoever. Tomlinson (Ed.) (2007), Jarvie (2006) and Green and Houlihan (2005) all make no mention whatsoever of disability sport. Hylton et al (2008) simply mentions the Disability Rights Commission amongst a list of organisations. Numerous other texts appear to show the same apparent disregard for this growing area of sport.

The lack, therefore, of any substantive content in courses and textbooks designed to train the sports and tourism practitioners of the future is, for disabled people, simply a further affirmation of their exclusion from the rest of society based upon non-disabled perceptions of their abilities, which for the most part are unfounded. However, the fact that they do go unrecognised within this training process simply feeds back into their feelings of low self-esteem and self-worth and reinforces the belief that travel, sport and tourism are not for them. The Paralympic Games of London 2012 provides an excellent opportunity for all academic disciplines to try and redress this imbalance. Over four thousand disabled athletes will be descending onLondonin 2012, as well as unknown numbers of disabled spectators. How will the infrastructure (airports, transport, shops and hotels) cope? What will the impact of these Games be for people with disabilities living in and around London and for tourists with disabilities visiting London post-2012? Unfortunately, if the training of future workers in the sports and tourism industries continues to ignore disabled people, for whatever reason, any new found enthusiasm engendered by the London Paralympic Games to take part in sport or to visit the many areas of Britain that will be highlighted as possible tourist destinations during the Games is likely to be short lived when they come into contact with industries that are ill-prepared and in some cases unwilling to meet their needs.

Academics can play an important role in changing attitudes and increasing awareness of both issues and opportunities for not only the sport, leisure and tourist industries, but many other areas of society including the whole higher education sector. The higher education sector can make a huge contribution to bettering the lives of disabled people by providing the various industry sectors with useful up-to-the-minute research relating to issues around disability. It can ensure that current and future students, who will form the policy makers of the future, graduate from these disciplines with a good understanding of the impact on their discipline of being disabled, and ways to overcome or lessen these impacts. Only in doing so can we ensure that the result ofLondonhosting the 2012 Paralympic Games is that progress prevails over prejudice.

Bibliography

Brittain, I., 2004, Perceptions of Disability and Their Impact Upon Involvement in Sport for People with Disabilities at All Levels in the Journal of Sport and Social Issues, Vol. 28(4), 429-452.

Devine, M.A., Inclusive Leisure Services and Research: A Consideration of the Use of Social Construction Theory in Journal of Leisurability, Spring 1997,Vol. 24(2), p. 3 – 11.

UKSport, 2000, United Kingdom‘s Sporting Preferences,UK Sport,London.

Ragnhild Myklebust – the most successful winter Paralympian ever!

In the absence of any questions as yet for ‘Ask the Anorak’ and in the interest of fairness I thought I’d do a short blog on the most successful winter Paralympian ever. As with the summer Olympic Games the summer Paralympic Games gets far more coverage than its winter counterpart. As with the summer Games the most successful winter Paralympian is a woman – Ragnhlid Myklebust from Norway. Ragnhild has won a total of 27 medals including 22 gold in three sports (Bathlon, Cross Country Skiing & Ice Sledge Speed Racing) over five winter Paralympic Games from Innsbruck in 1988 to Salt Lake City in 2002. She won nine medals at the Lillehammer 1994 Games in these three sports. Although she might not have as many medals as Trischa Zorn she does have a claim to fame that even Trischa Zorn cannot match – she has never been beaten in cross country skiing at the winter Paralympic Games and she has never finished outside of the medals in any winter Paralympic Games event that she has entered – 27 events – 27 medals!

 

Biathlon

Cross Country

Ice Sledge

Overall

 

G

S

B

G

S

B

G

S

B

G

S

B

1988

0

0

0

2

0

0

3

1

0

5

1

0

1992

0

0

0

2

0

0

0

0

0

2

0

0

1994

0

0

1

4

0

0

1

2

1

5

2

2

1998

1

0

0

4

0

0

0

0

0

5

0

0

2002

1

0

0

4

0

0

0

0

0

5

0

0

Total

2

0

1

16

0

0

4

3

1

22

3

2

Innsbruck, 1988

Gold – Cross Country Skiing Women’s Long Distance 5 km Gr II

Gold – Cross Country Skiing Women’s Short Distance 2.5 km Gr II

Gold – Ice Sledge Speed Racing Women’s 1,000 m Gr II

Gold – Ice Sledge Speed Racing Women’s 700 m Gr II

Gold – Ice Sledge Speed Racing Women’s 100 m Gr II

Silver – Ice Sledge Speed Racing Women’s 500 m Gr II

Tignes, 1992

Gold – Cross Country Skiing Women’s Long Distance 5 km LW10-11

Gold – Cross Country Skiing Women’s Short Distance 2.5 km LW10-11

Lillehammer, 1994

Gold – Cross Country Women’s 10 km Sitski LW10-11

Gold – Cross Country Women’s 2.5 km Sitski LW10-11

Gold – Cross Country Women’s 3×2.5 km Relay open

Gold – Cross Country Women’s 5 km Sitski LW10-11

Gold – Ice Sledge Speed Racing Women’s 700 m LW10-11

Silver – Ice Sledge Speed Racing Women’s 100 m LW10-11

Silver – Ice Sledge Speed Racing Women’s 500 m LW10-11

Bronze – Biathlon Women’s 7.5 km Free Technique LW2-9

Bronze – Ice Sledge Speed Racing Women’s 1,000 m LW10-11

Nagano, 1998

Gold – Biathlon Women’s 7.5 km Sitski LW10-12

Gold – Cross Country Women’s 10 km Sitski LW10-12

Gold – Cross Country Women’s 2.5 km Sitski LW10-12

Gold – Cross Country Women’s 5 km Sitski LW10-12

Gold – Cross Country Women’s 3×2.5 km Relay open

Salt Lake, 2002

Gold – Biathlon Women’s 7.5 km Sitski

Gold – Cross Country Women’s 10 km Sitski

Gold – Cross Country Women’s 2.5 km Sitski

Gold – Cross Country Women’s 5 km Sitski

Gold – Cross Country Women’s 3×2.5 km Relay open

Got A Paralympic History Question? Ask the Anorak!

Okay, so I might be opening myself up for a whole heap of trouble here, but I thought rather than me just posting random articles with a sociological or historical focus around the Paralympic and Stoke Mandeville Games or just disability sport in general I thought I’d see what kind of questions people might be interested in me trying to answer. I’ve spent nearly 12 years collecting quite a large archive of material (copies and originals) regarding Paralympic and disability sport history that I thought I might be able to put them to good use. They even cover the Commonwealth Paraplegic Games from 1962 – 1974.

 So if you’ve got a question you want answering or there’s a particular topic you’d like me write about – now’s your chance to ask! I’m not guaranteeing to have the answers to all questions, but I’ll give it my best shot. Some questions may take longer than others to answer depending upon the amount of digging I have to do, so please be patient. If I truly don’t have the answer to your question – I’ll tell you and, if possible, try to point you in the direction of somewhere or someone where you might get it answered! You can leave your question or suggested topic in the comment box below or on the Ask the Anorak page I’ll add after posting this.