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.