PhD Opportunity starting April 2016

We have a PhD opportunity commencing in April 2016 in connection with Coventry University’s Carnival Project. The opportunity is open to UK&EU (Fees + Stipend) AND International students (Fees only) The two projects are as follows and will include extensive periods of travel for data collection in South Africa/ Brazil and/or the USA:

What’s In It For Me: Assessing the Legacy of Para-Sport Events Upon the Lived Experience of People with Disabilities in Host Locations

Dr Ian Brittain

This studentship is part of the CARNIVAL project led by Coventry University, supported by a network of university partners from Brazil, Germany, South Africa and the USA. The main aims are to: 1) examine multiple contextual understandings of the impacts of mega-events, including social, economic, cultural, political, environmental and technological impacts; 2) provide opportunities for research on cutting-edge sustainable management practices to ensure that future potential mega-event impacts are maximised.

The International Paralympic Committee claims that the Paralympic Games can have a transformative affect upon the lives of people with disabilities, as well as positively change perceptions regarding people with disabilities within the non-disabled population. However, these claims have never been properly examined or investigated. The aim of this project is to interrogate these claims by investigating the impact of the Rio 2016 Paralympic Games upon the lives of people with disabilities living in Rio de Janeiro following the Rio 2016 Paralympic Games, and comparing these results with a similar investigation of the impact of the smaller scale Invictus Games for injured military personnel. You will also be part of a team carrying out research at the second Invictus Games in Florida this May.

As part of working on this project you will be expected to travel for data collection for prolonged periods of time (3-6 months) to Brazil.

Further details can be found at:

Candidate specification:

• a taught Master’s degree in a relevant discipline, involving a dissertation of standard length written in English in the relevant subject area with a minimum of a merit profile: 60% overall module average and a minimum of a 60% dissertation mark
• the potential to engage in innovative research and to complete the PhD within a three-year period of study
• a minimum of English language proficiency (IELTS overall minimum score of 7.0 with a minimum of 6.5 in each component)
Specific requirements:
• knowledge and/or experience of Paralympic/disability sport and/or working with people with disabilities
• the ability to speak and read Portuguese would be an advantage but is not essential a willingness to travel to South Africa

To apply, candidates will need to produce:

• The application form
• A 2,000 words proposal detailing your research interests and suggested approach to researching this topic
• Covering letter

To Apply please follow this link:

Closing date 29th February


Call for Abstracts: Disability Sport: Why do we ‘dis’ people’s abilities? Conference

Following on from the success of the first two conferences held in 2012 and 2014, the Centre for Business in Society will be hosting an international, inter-disciplinary conference for academics and practitioners.

The conference will be held at Coventry University, UK from 27-29 June 2016

The conference will focus on the use of disability sport as a tool for peace, development and social inclusion.


Conference Themes

The conference itself will be based around four main themes:

  • Sport and health for people with disabilities
  • Paralympic Legacies
  • Disability sport for peace and development
  • Disability sport and social inclusion


Possible areas for presentations include, but are not restricted to:

  • Inclusive sports programmes and policies (recreational/school/city/national)
  • Disability Sport as a tool for peace and development in post-conflict zones
  • Sport as a tool for the rehabilitation of individuals disabled as a result of conflict
  • Disability sport and its impact upon non-disabled perceptions of disability
  • Disability sport and the Higher Education sports curriculum
  • The potential economic and social impact of the Rio 2016 Paralympic Games
  • Sport as a human right for people with disabilities
  • Disability, sport and identity
  • The impact of disability discrimination in the provision of sporting opportunities for people with disabilities
  • Technology and disability sport: where does man become machine?
  • Historical issues in disability sport and the Paralympic Games
  • The Media and disability and Paralympic sport
  • The impact of sport on the health of people with disabilities
  • The elite non-disabled sporting model and disability sport: impacts, problems and possibilities
  • Marketing disability sport: problems and possibilities
  • International perspectives on disability sport
  • Disability sport and international diplomacy

There will also be opportunities for posters and suggestions for workshops.

For further information please see the website at

Glasgow 2014 Commonwealth Games Para-Sport Results

Glasgow 2014 Commonwealth Games Para-Sport Results


Men’s 100m T37

Medal      Competitor                  Country      Result
Gold         F. van der Merwe       RSA             11.65
Silver       C. du Toit                     RSA             11.89
Bronze    R. Jones                        WAL            12.04

Women’s 100m T12 Final

Medal     Competitor              Country        Result
Gold        Libby Clegg              SCO              12.20
Silver      M. Muchavo             MOZ             13.33
Bronze    L. Ishitile                 NAM             13.48

Men’s 1500m T54 Final

Medal    Competitor              Country     Result
Gold      David Weir              ENG            3.21.67
Silver    Kurt Fearnley          AUS            3.23.08
Bronze  Alexandre Dupont CAN            3.23.62

1500m Para Sport Wheelchair – Women: Final

Medal       Competitor            Country     Result
Gold          Angela Ballard      AUS            3.59.20
Silver        Diane Roy              CAN            3.59.55
Bronze     Jade Jones             ENG            4.00.19

Discus Throw Para Sport – Men: Final

Medal        Competitor                 Country             Result
Gold           Dan Greaves               ENG                  59.21
Silver         Aled Davies                 WAL                 46.83
Bronze       Richard Okigbazi      NGR                  39.38 PB

Long Jump Para Sport – Women : Final

Medal        Competitor                        Country         Result
Gold           Jodi Elkington                  AUS               4.39
Silver         Bethany Woodward         ENG              4.00
Bronze      Johanna Benson               NAM             3.82


Para-Sport 1000m Time Trial B Tandem

Position            Country            Result
1 – Gold             Scotland           1:02.096 (GR)
2 – Silver           Australia          1:02.244 (GR)
3 – Bronze         Wales               1:04.095

Para-Sport 1000m Time Trial B Tandem – Women

Position            Country           Result
1 – Gold             England           1:08.187
2 – Silver           Scotland          1:09.771
3 – Bronze        Australia          1:10.543

Para-Sport Sprint B Tandem – Men

Position            Country            Opponent      Result
1 – Gold             Scotland           AUS                2-0 – Win
2 – Silver           Australia          SCO                0-2 – Loss
3 – Bronze        Australia           WAL              2-0 – Win
4 –                     Wales                 AUS               0-2 – Loss

Para-Sport Sprint B Tandem – Women

Position            Country            Opponent      Result
1 – Gold            England             SCO                2-0 – Win
2 – Silver          Scotland            ENG               0-2 – Loss
3 – Bronze       Australia            AUS                2-0 – Win
4                        Australia            AUS                0-2 – Loss

Lawn Bowls

Para-Sport B2/B3 Mixed Pairs

Position          Country                Opponent       Result
1 – Gold           South Africa        SCO                 14-10 – Win
2 – Silver         Scotland               RSA                 10-14 – Loss
3 – Bronze       Australia              NZL                 14-11 – Win
4                       New Zealand       AUS                 11-14 – Loss

Para-Sport B6/B7/B8 Open Triples

Position          Country                Opponent       Result
1 – Gold           South Africa        NZL                 13-11 – Win
2 – Silver         New Zealand      RSA                  11-13 – Loss
3 – Bronze       England              SCO                  16-12 – Win
4                       Scotland             ENG                  12-16 – Loss


100m Breaststroke Para Sport SB9 – Women : Final

Position             Name                        Country              Result
1 – Gold             Sophie Pascoe          New Zealand     1:19.36
2 – Silver           Madeleine Scott      Australia             1:21.38
3 – Bronze        Erraid Davies           Scotland              1:21.68

100m Freestyle Para Sport S8 – Women: Final

Position            Name                                           Country      Result
1 – Gold             Maddison Elliott                       Australia     1:05.32 (WR)
2 – Silver           Stephanie Elizabeth Slater     England       1:05.73
3 – Bronze        Lakeisha Patterson                   Australia      1:08.98

100m Freestyle Para Sport S9 – Men: Final

Position            Name                              Country        Result
1 – Gold             Rowan Crothers           Australia      54.58 (WR)
2 – Silver           Matthew Cowdrey       Australia      56.33
3 – Bronze        Brenden Hall                Australia       56.85

200m Freestyle Para Sport S14 – Men : Final

Position           Name                                        Country        Result
1 – Gold            Daniel Fox                               Australia       1:57.89
2 – Silver          Thomas Barnett Hamer       England        2:00.27
3 – Bronze        Jack Robert Thomas            Wales            2:01.27

200m Individual Medley Para Sport SM10 – Women: Final

Position           Name                                  Country             Result
1 – Gold            Sophie Pascoe                  New Zealand     2:27.74
2 – Silver          Katherine Downie           Australia            2:31.98
3 – Bronze       Aurelie Rivard                  Canada               2:32.09

200m Individual Medley Para Sport SM8 – Men : Final

Position            Name                   Country           Result
1 – Gold             Oliver Hynd        England         2:22.86
2 – Silver           Jesse Aungles     Australia        2:31.25
3 – Bronze        Blake Cochrane  Australia        2:32.72


Bench Press Para Sport – Heavyweight – Men

Position            Name                                   Country      Result
1 – Gold             Abdulazeez Ibrahim         Nigeria       197.0
2 – Silver           Rajinder Rahelu                India           180.5
3 – Bronze        Jong Yee Khie                    Malaysia     178.0

Bench Press Para Sport – Heavyweight – Women

Position              Name                                                Country        Result
1 – Gold               Loveline Obiji                                 Nigeria          122.4
2 – Silver             Bose Omolayo                                Nigeria          113.4
3 – Bronze          Joyce Wambui Njuguna               Kenya            68.6

Bench Press Para Sport – Lightweight – Men

Position             Name                               Country             Result
1 – Gold              Paul Kehinde                 Nigeria              221.0
2 – Silver            Rolland Ezuruike          Nigeria              220.2
3 – Bronze         Ali Jawad                        England            209.4

Bench Press Para Sport – Lightweight – Women

Position             Name                               Country           Result
1 – Gold             Esther Oyema                 Nigeria             136.0
2 – Silver           Natalie Blake                  England           100.2
3 – Bronze        Sakina Khatun                India                 88.2

Glasgow 2014 Para-Sport Event Medal Table

Country                         Gold      Silver Bronze
Australia                            5           7           7
England                             5           4           3
Nigeria                               4           2           1
Scotland                            3            3           1
South Africa                     3            1           0
New Zealand                    2            1           0
Wales                                 0            1           3
Canada                              0            1            2
India                                  0            1            1
Mozambique                    0            1            0
Namibia                            0           0            2
Kenya                                0           0             1
Malaysia                           0           0             1
Total                                 22         22           22

Winter Paralympic Games Mascots (1976 – 2010)

Örnsköldsvik, 1976 – No Known Mascot

Geilo, 1980 – No Known Mascot

Innsbruck, 1984 – No Known Mascot

Innsbruck, 1988 – No Known Mascot

Tignes, 1992 (Alpy)

The official mascot, Alpy, designed by Vincent Thiebaut, represented the summit of the Grande Motte mountain in Tignes. Alpy was shown on a mono-ski to demonstrate its athleticism and the colours of white, green and blue were used to represent purity/snow, hope/nature and discipline/the lake.


Lillehammer, 1994 (Sondre)

Following a competition, an illustrator by the name of Tor Lindrupsen won with his children’s drawing of Sondre. Sondre is apparently a friendly teenage troll boy who is charming, good-natured, elegant and poised despite having had his left leg amputated above the knee. The name for the mascot was chosen in a separate competition and derives from the great skiing pioneer Sondre Nordheim.


Nagano, 1998 (Parabbit)

The mascot chosen for the Games was based upon the same rabbit emblem selected for the logo. A national competition was held to name the mascot and following 10,057 entries which suggested 3,408 different names the winning name chosen was Parabbit.


Salt Lake, 2002 (Otto)

The Salt Lake organisers chose the otter as the official mascot for the Games because they considered it to embody vitality and agility. The otter also had a long historical connection with the region stretching back to ancient Indian tribes who believed it to be one of the most powerful of all animals.  Having been nearly hunted to extinction in the early twentieth century and the river otter was successfully reintroduced to Utah in 1990.


Torino, 2006 (Aster)

Designed by Pedro Albuquerque, Aster the snowflake aims to depict the originality of Paralympic athletes, rather than focusing upon their disabilities. The complexity and originality of a snow flake expresses through its limits an original way of practicing sport at the highest competition level.


Vancouver, 2010 (Sumi)

Sumi is an animal spirit who lives in the mountains of British Columbia. Like many Canadians, Sumi’s background is drawn from many places. He wears the hat of the orca whale, flies with the wings of the mighty thunderbird and runs on the strong furry legs of the black bear. Sumi’s name comes from the Salish word “Sumesh” which means “guardian spirit.” Sumi takes his role very seriously. He works hard to protect the land, water and creatures of his homeland.

Transformation is a common theme in the art and legend of West Coast First Nations. Transformation represents the connection and kinship between the human, animal and spirit world. Revered animals, such as the orca whale, the bear and the thunderbird, are depicted in transformation through masks, totems and other forms of art. The orca is the traveller and guardian of the sea. The bear often represents strength and friendship. And the thunderbird — which creates thunder by flapping its wings — is one of the most powerful of the supernatural creatures.


Winter Paralympic Logos (1976-2010)

Örnsköldsvik, 1976

The word Örnsköldsvik literally translates as ‘Eagle shield’s bay’. The logo for the Örnsköldsvik winter Olympic Games for the Disabled, therefore, consisted off an eagle carrying a shield over water flanked below on either side by an alpine and a cross country skier – the two sports contained within the Games.


Geilo, 1980

The logo for the Games consisted of the Geilo city emblem at the time of a stylised snowflake held between the antlers of two reindeer facing each other and the three wheelchair wheel logo of the International Stoke Mandeville Games Federation (ISMGF) combined with a flaming torch. The inclusion of the ISMGF logo hints at the power of ISMGF, or possibly Dr Guttmann who was President of ISMGF and ISOD, given that it was ISOD who founded the winter Games.


Innsbruck, 1984

The logo for Innsbruck was a combination of three parts. The centre of the logo shows a stylised depiction of the Goldenes Dachl (Golden Roof) – one of Innsbruck’s most famous landmarks. Above this was the Olympic rings, which the IOC had agreed to the use of based upon certain conditions. Below the Golden Dachl was five broken rings aimed at depicting the disability of the participants taking part. It also contained the words ‘Under the patronage of the International Olympic Committee’ beneath the Olympic rings.


Innsbruck, 1988

The logo used in 1988 was exactly the same as used in 1984. It was a combination of three parts. The centre of the logo shows a stylised depiction of the Goldenes Dachl (Golden Roof) – one of Innsbruck’s most famous landmarks. Above this was the Olympic rings, which the IOC had agreed to the use of based upon certain conditions (see chapter 10). Below the Golden Dachl was five broken rings aimed at depicting the disability of the participants taking part. It also contained the words ‘Under the patronage of the International Olympic Committee’ beneath the Olympic rings.


Tignes, 1992

A bird with broken wings, soaring high across the peak of a mountain was the image, designed by Jean-Michel Folon, used to reflect the sporting abilities of the athletes at the Tignes-Albertville 1992 Paralympic Winter Games.


Lillehammer, 1994

The main illustration, depicting the sun people, aimed to evoke feelings of power, vitality, strength and energy, all of which are characteristics of disabled athletes. This was the last time the five tae-guks was used in connection with the Paralympic Games or the International Paralympic Committee.


Nagano, 1998

The logo design selected for the Nagano 1998 Winter Paralympics was designed by Sadahiko Kojima following the announcement of a national competition. It represents a simplified form of the Chinese character ‘naga’ for Nagano. It also symbolises a rabbit jumping and playing in snow or on ice with the swift movements that are characteristic of rabbits. This figure was combined with the Games details and the former IPC logo of three tae-guks.


Salt Lake, 2002

The logo for the Salt Lake Paralympics can be split into three distinct parts making up the whole. The sphere at the top represents both the global unity of the Paralympic Movement and also the head of the Paralympic athlete, which the overall logo appears to depict. The two broad fluid lines represent the athlete in motion with the three tae-guks, the former IPC logo, beneath the athlete.


Torino, 2006

The three graphic shapes at the top of the logo aim to symbolise the human figure and their soaring motion aims to convey energy, joy and the desire to reach ever higher. The IPC logo at the bottom represents both the Paralympic movement and as well as its motto of Mind, Body and Spirit. Finally the logo colours of blue, green and red, being the colours of the IPC logo were reinterpreted to depict the distinguishing colour of Italian sport, as well as the colour of snow and ice (blue), nature and the Italian landscape (green) and passion, which expresses vitality, enthusiasm and willpower (red).


Vancouver, 2010

The Vancouver 2010 Paralympic Winter Games Emblem represents the spirit of the Host Region, the Paralympic athlete’s journey and the harmony that exists between the athlete, their sport and the environment. The emblem captures the image of Vancouver and Whistler’s lush coastal forests, dramatic mountains and majestic sky — a natural theatre that will inspire Paralympians as they reach the pinnacle of sport and human achievement in 2010.

The emblem also reflects the athletes’ mountainous inner strength and personal transformation as they push themselves to new heights in the pursuit of excellence. A dynamic human form is created by the valley, mountains and sun of the West Coast. This design honours the harmonious relationship by suggesting that the athlete and mountain are one.


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.

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.


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
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
Hallett, S, 2006b, One eye on China: Mainly for Show in Ouch, Thursday 28th February accessed online (28-7-06) at
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

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.