ParaCommonwealth Stories

Evening Times’s ParaCommonwealth Reflection

It is hard to believe that it was two years ago when this ParaSports journey began, thanks to the editorial team at the Evening Times. They approached me and left me to lead it with guidance of my acquaintances, Matty Sutton, Simon Buckland, Gavin Sturgeon, Stacey Mullen, Helen Smith and more frequently my new co-pilot, Rachel Loxton.

Over the past two years, it is hard to look back on what I have accomplished on this journey for the Glasgow Evening Times, championing awareness of ParaSports as part of the Glasgow 2014 movement and embedding ‘Evening Times’ outcomes along with personal outcomes too.

TeamScotland_Parade150814 (4)The whole ethos of ‘leadership’ challenged and pushed me beyond my capabilities to produce the quality to a high professional standards. Given time, I quickly grew and acclimatised to the new vision of realisation of a different kind of leadership. I was able to take on three ‘jobs’. One, writing for the Evening Times, secondly, assigned tasks by Glasgow 2014 and thirdly, manned my PhD and my ParaSports Research Fellow post too.

During the last two years, I was incredibly fortunate to have had the opportunity to work with Matty Sutton, (reporter for the Evening Times). She has chartered my journey since I came back from India 2011 and then unknown to both of us, we were on this ParaSports journey. Matty was there throughout my journey of trying out all the ParaSports which were cherished with fun, laughter and tears. 

When my fortnightly column was published routinely, I was placed under the watchful eye of Helen Smith, (News Editor for the Evening Times). Through her guidance, I mastered my own journalism style. (A far cry for a girl like me who left Special Needs education with very few qualifications and here I am ten years later writing articles.) More latterly, Rachel Loxton, (reporter for the Evening Times) took over from Matty to become my co-pilot in highlighting ParaSports stories. We had gelled well and that a bonus as teamwork is paramount in an editorial team.

Working with Glasgow 2014 was incredible and to witnessed the mobilisation of a huge workforce was tremendous. To work with Simon Buckland and Gavin Sturgeon was a privileged as they were involved in the front line of media stories.

Through the wave of engagements, I have engaged with so many interesting people within the whole 2014 adventure, looking at media, culture and sports. This had involved me going out to meet various people in different environments. These experiences, had undoubtedly stand me in good stead for the future.

Thankyou also to David Grevemberg, CEO of Glasgow 2014 for being part of the journey too and demonstrating what can be achieved with the power of championing ParaSports.

Also, thanks to Professor Gayle McPherson of the University of the West of Scotland for letting me be part of an international research team with Dr. Laura Misener,  Professor David Legg,  Professor David McGillivray and Kyle Rich, PhD student, to investigate the first comparative study of the social legacy of major sporting events, examining the impact of parasport being integrated into a mainstream sporting event before, during and after the Glasgow 2014 Commonwealth Games.

Finally, thankyou for the Evening Times for an amazing two years, you’ve tested me on my leadership and I have reap the benefits.  There is no doubts this journey will signalled a new chapter after the ParaSports quest finishes. 





Interview with Sir Philip Craven

I recently had the opportunity to interview Sir Philip Craven who is the President of the International Paralympics Committee (IPC). He was in Glasgow for the 20th Commonwealth Games.

Sir Philip Craven has had a distinguished sporting career. He is five-time Paralympian having represented Great Britain in wheelchair basketball at all Paralympic Games from 1972-1988. Following his retirement from the sport, he moved into sports administration, first as chairman of the Great Britain Wheelchair Basketball Association and then founding President of the International Wheelchair Basketball Federation. Since 2001, he has been President of the International Paralympic Committee, the global governing body of the Paralympic Movement.

Glasgow 2014 celebrated with praised as it provided the biggest ever ParaSports programme. Sir Philip said he was delighted with how successful the Glasgow 2014 para-sport programme was. They had more events than ever before and the five ParaSports helped raise further the profile of the Paralympic Movement.

It has to be said, the Commonwealth Games is one of the few major sporting events where it is logical and possible to integrate para-sport. Integrating para-sport into the Commonwealth Games helps provide high level competition opportunities for many athletes from countries who normally would not get the chance to take part in such an event. By participating it helps raise the profile and develop the Paralympic Movement further in many Commonwealth countries.

It has been twelve years since ParaSports was first entrenched into the Commonwealth Games in Manchester 2002 and when looking back on it momentous journey, Sir Philip Craven has highlighted how the media coverage and crowd reaction to the para-sport events was achieved in Glasgow to see the value they bring to the Commonwealth Games. They featured high performance medal events featuring some of the world’s best athletes.

Glasgow 2014 Commonwealth Games was billed as the most accessible Games and it endeavour to make it an inclusive experience for all. Sir Philip Craven agreed as Glasgow did an excellent job in making the Games accessible and inclusive for all. He attended the opening ceremony and the first days of competition and found it a very pleasant and accommodating experience.

With Glasgow 2014 behind and many organisations who work with the Para-athletes slowly coming back after being on a high, the attention is now focussed on Rio 2016, PyeongChang 2018 and Tokyo 2020, it is vital that we get more athletes from more countries involved, continue to grow the global TV audience and have sold-out capacity crowds.
Sir Philip Craven believed by continuing to grow a global audience and encourage more para-athletes who will continue to inspire and excite the world, the Paralympic Games will act as a driver to changing attitudes and perceptions, making for a more inclusive society. He reckon in ten years time, the Paralympic Movement will continue to thrive and the Paralympic Games will continue to grow in size and stature.