Athletes with a disability and the Olympic Games

The following is a collection of athletes with disabilities who have competed at the Olympic Games or Olympians who have become disabled and then competed at the Paralympic Games. It is probably not a complete list so feel free to add to it. It also includes a list of deaf/ hearing impaired athletes who have competed at the Olympic Games.

Athletes with a disability who have competed at the Olympic Games only

George Eyser (USA) (Gymnastics – 1904)

American gymnast George Eyser, who had a wooden leg, competed at the 1904 Summer Olympics, and won three gold medals, two silver and a bronze.

Oliver Halassy (HUN) (Water Polo – 1928, 1932, 1936)

Oliver Halassy of Hungary, whose left leg was amputated below the knee, won three medals (two gold and a silver) in water polo in the Olympic Games of 1928, 1932 and 1936.

Karoly Takacs (HUN) (Shooting – 1948)

Karoly Takacs, also from Hungary, won gold in shooting at the 1948 Summer Olympics. His right hand had been destroyed by a hand grenade ten years earlier, and he had taught himself to shoot with his left.

Lis Hartel (DEN) (Equestrian Dressage – 1952)

Lis Hartel was one of the first women allowed to compete against men in the equestrian dressage. Despite being paralysed below the knees after contracting polio in 1944, when she was 23, Hartel was chosen to represent Denmark in the 1952 Olympic Games in Helsinki. She responded by earning the silver medal.

Harold V. Connolly (USA) (Athletics (Hammer Throw) – 1956, 1960, 1964, 1968)

Harold Connolly was Olympic hammer throwing gold medallist at the Melbourne Olympic Games of 1956 , a fact made remarkable by the fact that he had Erbs Palsy, which meant the his left arm was some 4.5 inches shorter than his right arm, far less muscularly developed and his left hand was two-thirds the size of his right hand.

Im Dong-Hyun (KOR) (Archery – 2004, 2008, 2012)

South Korean archer Im Dong-Hyun has 20/200 vision in his left eye and 20/100 vision in his right eye, meaning he is legally blind in his left eye. He won Olympic gold in the team competition in 2004 and 2008, and bronze in 2012.

Athletes with a disability who have competed at the Olympic and Paralympic Games

Neroli Fairhall (NZL) (Archery)

Paralympics – 1980, 1988, 2000
Olympics – 1984

New Zealander Neroli Fairhall was the first paraplegic competitor to compete in the Olympic Games. After competing in the 1980 Summer Paralympics in Arnhem she competed in the Los Angeles Olympic Games in 1984.where she finished 35th in the women’s individual event. Fairhall also won gold when archery was first introduced to the Commonwealth Games in Brisbane in 1982.

Sonia Vettenburg (BEL) (Shooting)

Paralympics – 1984, 1988
Olympics – 1992

Having been a medallist at the 1984 1nd 1988 Paralympic Games Sonia Vettenburg from Belgium finished 37th at the Barcelona Olympic Games in the women’s 10 metre air pistol.

Paola Fantato (ITA) (Archery)

Paralympics – 1988, 1992, 1996, 2000, 2004
Olympics – 1996

Paola Fantato of Italy contracted Polio at the age of eight and has been a wheelchair used ever since. She competed in archery at five consecutive Paralympic Games from 1988 to 2004 winning three individual and two team gold medals. In addition she represented Italy in archery the Atlanta Olympic Games where she finished 54th in the individual event and 9th in the team event

Marla Runyan (USA) (Athletics – Middle Distance)

Paralympics – 1992, 1996
Olympics – 2000, 2004

Marla Runyan is an American visually impaired athlete who won multiple medals in a range of track and field events in the 1992 and 1996 Paralympic Games. She then turned her talents to middle distance running and successfully qualified to compete in the Sydney Olympic Games in the 1500m where she finished 8th. She also finished 9th in a first round heat of the women’s 5000m at the Athens Olympic Games of 2004.

Natalia Partyka (POL) (Table Tennis)

Paralympics – 2000, 2004, 2008, 2012
Olympics – 2008, 2012

Natalia Partyka of Poland was born without a right hand or forearm. She first competed in the Paralympic Games at the age of just eleven in Sydney 2000. She has been women’s individual champion in her class at the last three Paralympic Games and also represented Poland at the Olympic table tennis events in Beijing 2008 and London 2012.

Natalie du Toit (RSA) (Swimming)

Paralympics – 2004, 2008, 2012
Olympics – 2008

Natalie du Toit is a South African single above the knee amputee who won multiple gold medals at the Paralympic Games between 2004 and 2012. In Beijing 2008 she also qualified to represent South Africa at the Beijing Olympic Games in the 10km Open water Swim, finishing 16th.

Assunta Legnante (ITA) (Athletics – Shot Put)

Paralympics – 2012
Olympics – 2008

Assunte Legnante was born with congenital glaucoma in both eyes. Prior to 2009 she had sufficient sight to compete in non-disabled sport and took part in the Beijing Olympic Games in the women’s shot put. However, in 2009 her sight deteriorated dramatically and is now classified as legally blind. She is the current F11 World record holder for shot put, set when she took the gold medal at the London 2012 Paralympic Games.

Oscar Pistorius (RSA) (Athletics)

Paralympics – 2004, 2008, 2012
Olympics – 2012

In London 2012 Oscar Pistorius became the first amputee to run at the Summer Olympic Games, where he competed in the 400m and 4 x 400 relay events.

Athletes who have competed at the Olympic Games, become disabled, and then competed at the Paralympic Games.

Pál Szekeres (HUN)

Olympics – 1988 (Fencing)
Paralympics – 1992, 1996, 2000, 2004, 2008, 2012 (Wheelchair Fencing)

There is at present only one athlete who has won a medal at the Olympics prior to becoming disabled, and has then gone on to win medals at the Paralympics. Hungarian fencer Pál Szekeres won a bronze medal at the 1988 Summer Olympics, then was disabled in a bus accident, and went on to win three gold medals and three bronze in wheelchair fencing at the Paralympics. He currently has the distinction of being the only person ever to have won medals at both the Olympic and Paralympic Games.

Orazio Fagone (ITA) (Winter Sports)

Olympics – 1988, 1992, 1994 (Short Track Speed Skating)
Paralympics – 2006, 2010 (Sledge Hockey)

Orazio Fagone competed for Italy as a short track speed skater in three Olympic Games from 1988 to 1994. At the Lillehammer 1994 Games he was part of the Italian team which won the gold medal in the 5000 metre relay competition. However, Fagone’s right leg was amputated after a motorcycle accident in 1997. He has since competed in two winter Paralympic Games in 2006 and 2008 with the Italian sledge hockey team.

Ilke Wyludda (GER)

Olympics – 1992, 1996, 2000 (Athletics – Discus)
Paralympics – 2012 (Athletics – Discus & Shot Put)

Ilke Wyludda from Germany competed in the Olympics from 1992 to 2000 winning the gold medal in women’s discuss in Atlanta in 1996. In early January 2011 Wyludda revealed in German newspaper Bild that she had to have her right leg amputated because of Sepsis. She then competed in the London 2012 Paralympic Games in the F57/58 discus and shot put competitions finishing 9th in the discus and 5th in the shot put.

Deaf/ Hearing Impaired Athletes who have competed at the Olympic Games

Although officially not currently part of the Paralympic movement I have included a list of athletes who are either deaf or hearing impaired and have competed at the Olympic Games

Carlo Orlandi (ITA) 1928

Carlo Orlandi was an Italian boxer who competed in the 1928 Olympics in Amsterdam, and was also a deaf-mute. He won the gold medal in the lightweight class.

Donald Gollan (GBR) 1928

UK rower Donald Gollan won a silver medal as a member of the rowing eights in 1928. He was deaf and mute.

Ildikó Újlaky-Rejtő (HUN) 1960 – 1976

Deaf Hungarian fencer Ildikó Újlaky-Rejtő won two individual medals (a gold and a bronze) and five team medals at the Olympics between 1960 and 1976.

Jeff Float (USA) 1984

Jeff Float swam the third leg for the US in the 4 × 200-meter freestyle relay. He had lost 80% of his hearing in his right ear and 60% in his left ear after contracting viral meningitis at the age of 13 months.

Terence Parkin (RSA) 2000, 2004

Deaf South African swimmer Terence Parkin won a silver medal in the 200-meter breaststroke at the Sydney Olympic Games in 2000 and also participated in 2004 in Athens

Frank Bartolillo (AUS) 2004

Australian Frank Bartolillo is profoundly deaf, and competed in the individual foil event in fencing at the Athens 2004 Olympics.

Chris Colwill (USA) 2008, 2012

Chris Colwill, who has a 65% hearing loss, is a diver from the USA. Colwill is not able to wear his hearing aid when he dives, so he can’t hear the whistle that signals to the divers when they can go. Therefore, the referees nod to him in addition to the whistle so that he can recognize the signal.

David Smith (USA) 2012

David Smith was part of the USA volleyball team at the 2012 London Olympics. Smith has been deaf since birth, having 80-90% hearing loss, and has worn hearing aids since he was three years old.

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China’s rise to Paralympic Supremacy

This piece briefly looks at some of the possible reasons how and why a country such as China has gone from a Paralympic also ran in 1984 to become the strongest Paralympic nation in the world by far at the Athens 2004 Paralympic Games and beyond. In Athens they topped the medal table with 28 more gold medals than the team finishing in second place and yet have a GDPpc that ranks them only 118th in the world and is eighty percent less than that of the second place nation in Athens, Great Britain. In 2012 they won 59 more gold medals that the country in second place. The table below shows the development of China’s performance at every summer Paralympic Games since they first began competing in 1984.

Table 1

Table 1. The development of China as a Paralympic nation.
(T: Total team size, CWM: Countries winning medals, %AM: Percentage of all available medals won)

As can be seen from the table, China have improved their share of the medals at every Paralympic Games they have competed in (with the exception of 1992 when they sent a much smaller squad) even though the number of countries winning medals has almost doubled in the same period.

Under Mao strong and fit bodies were a pre-requisite for a strong and fit China. Sport and Physical Education were considered a vital component of nation building because the mother body, China itself, is considered to be made up of all of the bodies within it. Therefore, if they are strong and fit then China itself is also considered to be strong and fit to take on the world (Stone, 2001). MacClancey (1996) claims that Sports may be used as a resource by which the powerful attempt to dominate others. The forgers of the Soviet state were well aware of its potential. To them, sport was a tool for socializing the population into the newly established system of values. Fan Hong et al (2005) draw a similar conclusion about China when they state that the Chinese government uses sport as a window to show the world the new image of communism in the new era; as an ideology to unite Chinese people in a sporting patriotism as Marxist-Leninist and Maoist ideological beliefs begin to decay and as an opium to distract attention from severe social problems such as corruption and unemployment. They go on to claim that since the 1980s China’s sporting success has been regarded not only as evidence of ideological superiority and economic prosperity, but also a totem of national revival. Attending the Olympics and other international competitions and performing well became the symbolic means of catching up with and even beating the Western powers. “Develop elite sport and make China a superpower in the world” became both a slogan and dream for the Chinese (Fan Hong et al, 2005).

So where do the disabled, who account for between 60-100 million people in China, fit into this philosophy? According to Chi Jian (2005), Vice Chancellor of Beijing Sports University, attitudes to disabled people is one of the standards by which the progress of social civilization is measured. He also claims that China has held sports competitions for the disabled since the 1950’s. So is China’s rise to superiority in Paralympic Sport really a true reflection of the way people with disabilities are regarded and treated within Chinese society? Much has been made of the fact that Deng Pufang, the son of former Chinese Leader Deng Xioaping, and himself a wheelchair user, heads up the Chinese Disabled Peoples Federation. Many new laws have been passed aimed at improving the lives of disabled people and international recognition has been gained through the success of the Chinese Paralympic team and the Disabled People’s Arts Troupe that has toured the world. However, Stephen Hallett, a visually impaired reporter for the BBC who lives in Beijing and has a Chinese wife, in a series of articles about life in China, states that according to most of his disabled friends in China, the CDPF has become deeply corrupt, bureaucratic and self-serving. The hype of the Paralympics and the disabled people’s art troupe is quite unrepresentative of the tens of millions of people with disabilities who have seen little improvement in their lives (Hallet, 2006a). In a further article he quotes:

“China’s disability organizations aren’t there to serve disabled people Wang Yan told me the other day. They are primarily there to serve the government and make a good impression on foreigners.”
Hallett (2006b)

In the same article he relates the tale of a blind former local government official, Fu Yun, who went blind in her forties, taught herself Braille and offered her services to CDPF as a volunteer only to be told ‘we don’t have disabled people working here. What do you think a blind person like you can do?’ (Hallett, 2006b)

There are many other examples that appear to contradict any claim China might make that their performance in the Paralympic Games is an indication of the progress made by disabled people within Chinese society. An article in the newsletter for the Cerebral Palsy Sports Organization in the UK cited a Chinese newspaper report that quoted an education official as saying the new rules under which all undergraduates have to submit to a medical exam to assess their medical suitability and physical fitness should prevent disabled people from “clogging up” Chinese Universities. Meanwhile, a senior university official was quoted as saying “These days, no college is willing to take a disabled student…allowing one disabled student in only encourages others.” (CPSports Newsletter, 2005)

Stone (2001) claims that under both Maoist body principles and Deng Xioaping’s free-market economy, both have led to the alienation of the disabled – the former for their weakness and the latter for their non-productivity. She goes on to state that the propaganda surrounding disability sport has been another mechanism through which to shift the burden of disability away from the state and onto society in general and disabled people in particular. The government often holds up examples of courageous disabled, such as Paralympic champions, to encourage and possibly shame for not doing their part, other disabled people into following suit. Unfortunately this appears to be without providing the means to do so, as is evident in the following comment from Wang Xinxian, the Vice Chairman of CDPF, who stated “all of our disabled players are non-professional athletes and most do not have a stable job. They have to consider their family’s economic situation when doing sports. Some excellent athletes have had to give up sports for financial reasons.”

Although the above is only a brief insight into China’s possible motives for investing so heavily in Paralympic sport, it does appear from the evidence found that the success is not a true reflection of the way disabled are treated and regarded within China. They appear to be taking similar approaches to those of the former Soviet Union and East Germany, only they are applying them to disability sport. Indeed Chi Jian (2005) states that local sports associations for the disabled have set up files of adolescents and children in local hospitals, welfare institutions, elementary or middle schools and schools for disabled people. These measures are to help find talent as early as possible and as quickly as possible. It would appear then that China has a number of motivations behind its Paralympic success. On the one hand it wants to portray itself to the rest of the world as an economic power which looks after all of its people with equal care through its slogan “develop elite sport and make China a superpower in the world.” On the other hand it wishes to distract the attention of its people from problems at home and to pass the issues surrounding disability onto society and disabled people in particular by holding up examples of Paralympic success to shame other disabled people into trying to make more of their lives without providing the means to help them.

In concluding it should be made it clear that the author does not believe that China is the only nation by any means to be guilty of such actions. They are simply the most obvious example. The author calls this process ‘athletes as a means to a political end’. It has gone on in the Olympic Games for many decades. The fact that the Paralympic Games is now being used for political propaganda is simply proof that the Paralympic Games have truly arrived as an international sporting spectacle with all the political machinations that that entails.

References.

Chi Jian, 2005, The Development of Sports for the Disabled in China, paper presented at the IV International Forum on Elite Sport, July 26-28, 2005, Montreal, Canada.
CPSPORTS newsletter accessed online (25-11-05) at
http://www.cpsports.com/Pastnewsltr/Jan02%20newsletter.pdf
Fan Hong, Ping Wu & Huan Xiong, Beijing Ambitions: An Analysis of the Chinese Elite Sports System and its Olympic Strategy for the 2008 Olympic Games, article provided through personal communication.
Hallett, S, 2006a, One eye on China: Back in the People’s Republic in Ouch, Thursday 26th January accessed online (28-7-06) at
http://www.bbc.co.uk/ouch/features/one-eye-on-china-back.shtml.
Hallett, S, 2006b, One eye on China: Mainly for Show in Ouch, Thursday 28th February accessed online (28-7-06) at http://www.bbc.co.uk/ouch/features/one-eye-on-china-mainly-for-show.shtml
MacClancey, J., 1996, Sport, Identity and Ethnicity in MacClancey, J. (Ed), Sport, Identity and Ethnicity, Berg, Oxford, p. 1-20.
Stone, E., 2001, Disability, Sport and the Body in China, Sociology of Sport Journal, 18 p51-68.
Tang Yuankai, Taking on fate: Disabled Chinese in Sports accessed online (28-7-06) at http://www.bjreview.com.cn/200443/Nation-200443(B).htm

This post is adapted from a previously paper entitled ‘Paralympic success as a measure of national social and economic development’, published in the International Journal of Eastern Sport and Physical Education, Vol. 4(1), 38-47.

Great Britain at the Winter Paralympic Games

British Winter Games Medals by Sport, Games and Gender

Alpine Skiing

 

Men

Women

Overall

 

G

S

B

G

S

B

G

S

B

Örnsköldsvik 1976

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

Geilo 1980

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

Innsbruck 1984

0

0

1

0

0

0

0

0

1

Innsbruck 1988

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

Tignes 1992

0

1

4

0

0

0

0

1

4

Lillehammer 1994

0

0

4

0

0

0

0

0

4

Nagano 1998

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

Salt Lake City 2002

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

Torino 2006

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

Vancouver 2010

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

 

0

1

9

0

0

0

0

1

9

Cross Country Skiing

 

Men

Women

Overall

 

G

S

B

G

S

B

G

S

B

Örnsköldsvik 1976

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

Geilo 1980

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

Innsbruck 1984

0

0

1

0

0

0

0

0

1

Innsbruck 1988

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

Tignes 1992

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

Lillehammer 1994

0

0

1

0

0

0

0

0

1

Nagano 1998

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

Salt Lake City 2002

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

Torino 2006

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

Vancouver 2010

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

 

0

0

2

0

0

0

0

0

2

Ice Sledge Speed Racing

 

Men

Women

Overall

 

G

S

B

G

S

B

G

S

B

Innsbruck 1984

0

1

1

0

3

3

0

4

4

Innsbruck 1988

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

Lillehammer 1994

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

Nagano 1998

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

 

0

1

1

0

3

3

0

4

4

Wheelchair Curling

 

Men

Women

Mixed

Total

 

G

S

B

G

S

B

G

S

B

G

S

B

Torino 2006

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

1

0

0

1

0

Vancouver 2010

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

 

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

1

0

0

1

0

Great Britain has never won a medal in the following winter sports:

Biathlon

Ice Sledge Hockey

British Team Sizes and Total British Medals won at the winter Paralympic Games

Team Size

Men

Women

Mixed

Total

Men

Women

Total

G

S

B

G

S

B

G

S

B

G

S

B

Örnsköldsvik, 1976

6

0

6

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

Geilo, 1980

8

0

8

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

Innsbruck, 1984

19

3

22

0

1

3

0

3

3

0

0

0

0

4

6

10

Innsbruck, 1988

18

3

21

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

Tignes, 1992

14

1

15

0

1

4

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

1

4

5

Lillehammer, 1994

23

0

23

0

0

5

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

5

5

Nagano, 1998

20

1

21

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

Salt Lake City, 2002

2

0

2

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

Torino, 2006

18

2

20

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

1

0

0

1

0

1

Vancouver, 2010

7

5

12

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

 

 

 

0

2

12

0

3

3

0

1

0

0

6

15

21

Top Performing British Winter Medalists

By Gold Medal

Male                                                                                  Female

1. Richard Burt                    0g 1s 3b                         1. Denise Smith                    0g 3s 0b

2. Ken Robertson               0g 1s 1b                          2. Angie Malone                  0g 1s 0b

3=. Ken Dickson                  0g 1s 0b                        3. Anne Peskey                    0g 0s 3b

3=. Tom Killin                      0g 1s 0b

3=. Frank Duffy                   0g 1s 0b

3=. Michael McCreadie      0g 1s 0b

By Total Number of Medals

1=. Richard Burt                 0g 1s 3b (4)        1=. Denise Smith                  0g 3s 0b(3)

1=. Matthew Stockford    0g 0s 4b (4)       1=. Anne Peskey                  0g 0s 3b (3)

3=. Ken Robertson             0g 1s 1b (2)        3. Angie Malone                  0g 1s 0b (1)

3=. Peter Young                   0g 0s 2b (2)

All time Summer and Winter Top Ten Paralympic Games Medal Tables

Below are the Top Ten medal tables for the summer (1960 – 2012) and winter (1976 – 2010) Paralympic Games. Please note that the total include the medals won at the Madrid 1992 Paralympic Games for the Intellectually Disabled. The totals also include medals for individual events the results of which do not currently appear in the IPC historical data-base. Copies of these results, often missed out of official published results books (particularly in early Games), but appearing in newspapers and other sources, were passed to IPC several years ago, but have yet to be added to the data-base. There will, therefore, be discrepancies between the tables below and the results you would get if you used the IPC historical data-base to calculate them. The IPC also do not currently recognise the Madrid 1992 Paralympic Games for the Intellectually Disabled as a Paralympic Games, despite the fact that they are actually mentioned in a contract signed by ICC and IPC regarding who would be responsible for the Paralympic summer Games of 1992 and the winter Games of 1994.

Summer Games (1960 – 2012)
                                               Gold Silver Bronze Total
USA                                      732    656     678       2066
Great Britain                     563    550    539       1652
Germany*                          487    493    466       1446
Canada                                386     319     329      1034
Australia                             359    373     345      1077
France                                 338    342     329      1009
China                                   331     259     199         789
Netherlands                     260     226     204       690
Poland                                255     242     197        694
Sweden                               230    223      170       623

Winter Games (1976 – 2010)

                                    Gold Silver Bronze Total
Norway                     134    101       80        315
Germany*                121     108     101       330
Austria                      102     108     104      314
USA                              96       97         68      261
Finland                        75       48        60       183
Russia                          55       59         39       153
Switzerland               49       55        48       152
France                         47       44        48      139
Canada                        36        41        42      119
Sweden                        25       30        40        95

* These totals include medals won by the former Federal Republic of Germany (FRG) and the German Democratic Republic (DDR)

Got a question about Paralympic or disability sport? 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 Paralympic or disability sport in general I thought I’d see what kind of questions people might be interested in me trying to answer or topics they might like me to write about. 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 research 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.

The Study of Disability Sport in Higher Education

Depending on what definition is used for “disability” at least 10% of the world’s population is disabled in some way. 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 and Leisure appear to be no exception to this.

According to Torkildsen (1986) a positive, proactive and friendly attitude from management and staff towards disabled individuals can often overcome many of the problems posed by access to a particular programme or facility. However, this can only really occur if the staff have an understanding of the issues that surround participation in, and the development of, sport for people with disabilities. Unfortunately, the training that current and future workers in the area of sport currently receive is almost wholly based around the provision of sport for the non-disabled population. A review of the key texts currently used at some of the key institutions involved in the provision of degrees in the area of sport in the UK shows that they 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 and Bramham (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 of any substantive content in courses and textbooks designed to train the sports 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 sport and leisure activities are not for them. It also means that lecturers and teachers in sport have little or no reference material and so lack the knowledge, training and confidence to try and change the current status quo.

Brittain (2010) cites possible reasons why disability sport is overlooked in terms of academic and vocational training. According to Coakley (1998), sport is a form of cultural practice created by groups of people in order to help find ways to live with each other and at the same time make their lives more fulfilling and meaningful. Sage (1993) claims “Sports and physical education are practices, which are socially constructed within the culture in which they exist, and any adequate account of them must be grounded in an understanding of power, privilege, and dominance within society” (Sage, 1993 cited in DePauw, 2000; p. 358). However, as sport is a social construction of dominant groups within society it is, therefore, a creation of and for non-disabled people, which gives priority to certain types of human movement (Barton, 1993). Therefore, disabled individuals wishing to take part in some kind of sporting activity at any level have first to overcome a complex inter-connection of a variety of socially constructed concepts (e.g. the way they are positioned within society in terms of sport, normality, body image), the effects of which can be lessened or increased by other social constructions such as their gender, age, race, sexual orientation and material factors.

Ferguson (2006, cited in Shapiro et al (2012: 105)) cites eight reasons for infusing information about disabilities in the general curriculum including the fact that ignorance feeds discrimination and stereotypes. The idea of infusing disability material into the sports curriculum is not new. As early as 1994 DePauw and Goc Karp (1994a, 1994b) introduced the idea and several authors since have re-iterated the idea (Brittain (2010, 2008); Hums et al (2007, 2003); DePauw and Doll-Tepper (2000); Rizzo et al (1997)). However, despite these articles it is apparent that only limited practical progress has been made on this issue.

In the UK the Peter Harrison Centre for Disability Sport at Loughborough University has been carrying out research for a number of years, but there is little evidence that this has spread to their curriculum. However, over the last year or so with all the publicity given to the London 2012 Paralympic Games a number of new initiatives have arisen that indicate maybe things are changing, albeit slowly. At the University of Worcester they have introduced a BSc (Hons) Sports Coaching Science with Disability Sport degree and have recently advertised for a Professor of Disability Sport to move the initiative forward. At the University of Lincoln they are running a Disability Sport Project whereby a group of students will complete research investigating disability sport provision and demands at the University of Lincoln. The group have agreed a number of targets and key performance indicators which include;
– Creating a working partnership between stakeholders at the University
– Completing research into disabled students’ experiences of sport at the University, and to ascertain demand for further services
– Producing a report making recommendations for the direction of future disability sport at the University, with a view to producing an agreed mission-statement for disability sport provision in the University.

At the University of Bath The Centre of Excellence for DisAbility Sport & Health (DASH) has been set up and will host research into disability sport and exercise for disabled athletes and military amputees and is part of the legacy of the Olympic and Paralympic Games inspired by the University’s role in helping to train elite Paralympic athletes at its Sports Training Village. And finally the English Federation of Disability Sport has set up a Research for Disabled People in Sport Working Group consisting of academics interested in the study of disability sport in the UK in an attempt to bring practitioners and academics in the field together for the benefit of all athletes with a disability. Hopefully these examples are just the tip of the iceberg and are an indication that the study of sport for people with disabilities is growing in importance and stature.

References

Barton, L., 1993, Disability, Empowerment and Physical Education, in Evans, J. (Ed.), 1993, Equality, Education and Physical Education, The Falmer Press, London, p. 43-54.
Brittain, I., 2010, The London 2012 Paralympic Games: Will Prejudice or Progress Prevail? Link 26, The Higher Education Academy Hospitality, Leisure, Sport and Tourism Network, Oxford, UK, 5-6.
Brittain, I., 2008, The Paralympic Games, Disability Sport and the Curriculum, Link 20, The Higher Education Academy Hospitality, Leisure, Sport and Tourism Network, Oxford, UK, 16-18.
Brittain, I., 2004, Perceptions of disability and their impact upon involvement in sport for people with disabilities at all levels. Journal of Sport and Social Issues, Vol.28 (4): 429-452.
Coakley, J., 1998, Sport in Society: Issues and Controversies (6th Ed.), McGraw-Hill, Boston, Mass, USA.
DePauw, K.P., 2000, Social-Cultural Context of Disability: Implications for Scientific Inquiry and Professional Preparation, in Quest, Vol. 52: 358 – 368.
Depauw, K.P. & Doll-Tepper, G., 2000, Toward progressive inclusion and acceptance: Myth or reality? The inclusion debate and bandwagon discourse, Adapted Physical Activity Quarterly, Vol. 17: 135 – 143.
Depauw, K.P. & Goc Karp, G., 1994a, Integrating knowledge of disability throughout the physical education
curricula: An infusion approach, Adapted Physical Activity Quarterly, Vol.11: 3 – 13.
Depauw, K.P. & Goc Karp, G., 1994b, Preparing teachers for inclusion: The role of higher education, Journal of Physical Education, Recreation and Dance, Vol. 65: 51 – 53, 56.
Ferguson, P., 2006, Infusing disability studies into the general curriculum. Tempe, AZ: National Institute for Urban School Improvement.
Green, M. & Houlihan, B., 2005, Elite Sport Development: Policy Learning and Political Prioties, Routledge, Abingdon, UK
Hums, M.A., Moorman, A.M. & Wolff, E.A., 2007, “A different lens: Examining disability sport from a sport management perspective”. Retrieved from http://iris.lib.neu.edu/sport_staff_pres/1/
Hums, M.A., Moorman, A.M. & Fay, T., 2003, Educating future sport management about the Paralympic Games: Integrating the Paralympic Games into a sport management curriculum, Proceedings of the 2003 VISTA Paralympic Congress, Bollnas, Sweden (CD Version)
Hylton, K. & Bramham, P.(Eds.), 2008, Sports Development: Policy Process and Practice, Routledge, Abingdon, UK.
Jarvie, G., 2006, Sport, Culture and Society: An Introduction, Routledge, Abingdon, UK
Rizzo, T.L., Broadhead, G.D. & Kowalski, E., 1997, Changing kinesiology and physical education by infusing
information about individuals with disabilities, Quest, Vol. 49: 229 – 237.
Sage, G.H., 1993, Sport and Physical Education and the New World Order: dare we be agents of social change? In Quest, Vol. 45:151-164.
Shapiro, D.R., Pitts, B.G., Hums, M.A. & Calloway, J., 2012, Infusing Disability Sport into the Sport Management Curriculum, Choregia, Vol. 8(1): 101 – 118.
Tomlinson, A. (Ed), 2007, The Sports Studies Reader, Routledge, Abingdon, UK
Torkildsen, G., 1986, Leisure and Recreation Management (2nd Ed.); E. & F. N. Spon, London.

Youth with disabilities and sport in post-conflict zones

There is a steadily growing body of work regarding the significance of non-disabled sport within society and the potential impacts it can have, particularly in terms of developing ‘better’ citizens in terms of health, behaviour and productivity (cf. Coalter, 2007). There is also a growing body of work regarding the use of sport for the non-disabled in conflict zones as a means of development and brokering peace. However, there appears to be little work which addresses these issues with regard to the use of sport for the disabled and the role it might play both in the re-integration into society of people with disabilities nor the impact it can have upon changing perceptions of people with disabilities within the wider community and thus aiding the re-integration process. There appears to be some attempts to use sports for the rehabilitation of youth with disabilities in places such as Sierra Leone through amputee football, but what is lacking is a comprehensive understanding of the potential of sport in responding to the challenges faced by youth with physical disabilities.

One of the main impacts of armed conflicts is that there is a high level of disabilities caused by small arms and light weapons (SALW), including anti-personnel landmines.  Youth, both as civilians and combatants, appear to be one of the most affected groups with this problem, and it is often the case that there are no adequate socio-economic services and opportunities in post-conflict environments to help deal with the many issues raised by these conflict-induced disabilities. However, research relating to the impact of conflict induced disability, particularly with regard to children, is scarce, although this may be partly due to the difficulties of carrying out research in the often challenging situation of a post-conflict society.

However, it is equally important not to overlook the issues for those who received their disabilities as a result of accidents or birth defects otherwise there would be a  risk of marginalising further an already marginalised group. People, and particularly children, with disabilities do not have equal opportunities and equal access regarding most parts of life. Handicap International claim this lack of access includes basic services (especially education and health), because of physical inaccessibility to the buildings, lack of information in adapted formats (e.g. Braille) and discriminatory behaviour within society. In addition, people with disabilities tend to suffer disproportionately during and after conflict situations. They are often the most exposed to protection risks, including physical and sexual violence, exploitation, harassment and discrimination (Reilly, 2010). This is particularly true for females. Research by the United Nations indicates that violence against children with disabilities occurs at annual rates at least 1.7 times greater than for their non-disabled peers. Finally, they also lack options for making a living and, therefore, the opportunity to transcend out of poverty, which often means they either remain as a burden on their families or are forced to beg to make a living.

Disability and poverty are also closely linked with insecure living conditions, lack of access to basic services, malnutrition and other dimensions of poverty not only leading directly to disabilities, but also making life much harder for those who are born with or acquire disabilities through accidents or as a result of conflict. Add to these facts the issue of the perceived stigma attached not only to the person with a disability, but also their families, which can cause  parents to try and conceal their disabled children, and it is clear that life for a person with a disability in former conflict zones is very difficult indeed. The rehabilitation of children with conflict-induced disabilities needs to bear in mind a set of additional issues such as the context of poverty, social stigma, cultural values and traditions prevalent within the society under investigation. Moreover, as there are always many priorities for reconstruction in post-conflict affected environments, and people with disabilities and particularly children are far less likely to have access to decision making processes, means of production and financial capital, they tend to be further marginalized within society.

One further issue for people with disabilities in conflict zones is that they often become displaced from their villages and local communities, either forcibly or out of fear for their own safety and often end up in internal displacement camps, where conditions are often far from ideal to meet their needs. However, once the resettlement process is underway the devastation caused by the conflict in terms of the destruction of villages and infrastructure, often mean that people with disabilities are one of the hardest groups to re-settle. They also often meet other people with disabilities in the camps that enable them to achieve some sort of camaraderie, which is often preferable to the isolation they can feel in their own villages where they may be shunned or stigmatized by their acquired disability (Duerden, 2010).

Estimating accurate numbers for the disabled population in a given country in a post-conflict situation is often almost impossible. A lack of consistency in terminology and methodologies for data collection, cultural differences in definitions and concepts of disability, and lack of training or disability awareness amongst data collection staff will all affect the accuracy of the data. This is also compounded by some of the issues highlighted above regarding stigma and the hiding away of the people with disabilities, difficulties of researching in isolated (and sometimes dangerous) rural areas and the general administrative and bureaucratic chaos that follows a prolonged conflict situation. In short, life for children and youth with disabilities in a post-conflict environment often means marginalisation, exclusion, disparity, poverty and ostracisation. It is, therefore, very important for them to have opportunities to address these challenges. There is a growing body of evidence that sport may have an effective role to play as part of this process.  However, as pointed out above, there is a paucity of research in this area and it is, therefore, critical to explore possible approaches and methods for the potential use of sport in effectively helping to transform the lives of this marginalised group.

Bibliography

Coalter, F (2007) A wider social role for sport: who’s keeping the score? Routledge, UK.

Duerden, S (2010) Displacement limbo in Sierra Leone

(http://repository.forcedmigration.org/show_metadata.jsp?pid=fmo:5850) accessed 25-2-2013

Reilly, R (2010) Disabilities among refugees and conflict-affected populations (http://www.fmreview.org/disability/FMR35/08-10.pdf) accessed 25-2-2013

United Nations (undated) Factsheet on Persons with Disabilities.

(http://www.un.org/disabilities/default.asp?id=18) accessed 25-2-2013

The World Bank Group (2006) Govment bizness na wi bizness: Building demand for good governance and enhancing conditions for social accountability in Sierra Leone (http://siteresources.worldbank.org/INTRANETENVIRONMENT/Resources/244351-1222272730742/SL_ESW_Summary.pdf) accessed 25-2-2013