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“Not a legacy, but the beginning of an incredible journey”

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“Not a legacy, but the beginning of an incredible journey”

During a conference on leveraging the Olympics and Paralympics at Brunel University, CEO of the British Paralympic Association, Tim Hollingsworth, said that the 2012 Paralympic Games was the start of a journey towards creating a better world for people with disabilities.

With over four billion viewers, Hollingsworth stated, the 2012 Paralympics Games is effectively the third largest mega sporting event after the Summer Olympics and Men’s Football World Cup, with Team GB finishing third on the medal tables.

While this is a success story in its own right for the British Paralympic Association and the wider Paralympic movement, the real success was in the impact the Games had on a wider social level in changing views towards people with disabilities.

Disabled athletes as change makers
It was the athlete’s success that drove other measures,” Hollingsworth said, referring to the wider social impact of the Paralympics. “We went into the Games with two ambitions – Retain GB’s medal success and use the athletes as change makers”.

This twin challenge of “winning medals to change mentalities” was achieved according to Hollingsworth, who shared how moments of triumph as well as despair, such as Jody Cundy’s furious reaction to his disqualification, were opportunities for spectators to connect with athletes on a human level. “Sport has the ability to show wider society that people with disabilities have the same ambitions as those without,” he concluded.

'Maximising Momentum’
Like everyone else,” Hollingsworth continued, “we published a strategic plan 100 days before the Games. We didn’t have a concept that there would be a legacy because of the newness of the event. The title of the report 'Maximising Momentum’ was an acknowledgment that we couldn’t talk about legacy, but rather a starting point”.

He highlighted that 80% of spectators had never attended a Paralympic event prior to the 2012 Games, but 98% of spectators said they would attend another Paralympics event in the future.

Future of the Paralympic movement
Building from the success of the 2012 Paralympics, Hollingsworth shared that the British Paralympic Association has a specific role to play in spreading the ideals of the movement on an international level with the International Paralympic Committee.

When asked on Twitter whether he felt it was a good idea to integrate the Olympics and Paralympics, Hollingsworth responded that this is “not something we advocate. At the highest level the Paralympic Games should be unique and special for athletes – (the) pinnacle. More integration would mean big reduction in events on programme, classifications etc. so fewer competitors.”




 

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Stephen Reynard

Published

Thursday, July 2, 2015 - 23:00