Members of the research project which helped to secure the re-inclusion of athletes with an intellectual disability into the Paralympic Games are celebrating today after their programme triumphed at the first ever Podium Awards for London 2012 inspired projects.
The project fought off fierce competition from more than 230 nominated projects to win the gold medal in the RCUK Award for Exceptional Research Contribution in front of over 350 attendees and dignitaries including London 2012 organising committee (LOCOG) CEO, Paul Deighton and Xavier Gonzalez, Chief Executive of the International Paralympic Committee .
The black tie ceremony, held close to the Olympic stadium, was a one-off event to celebrate UK colleges and universities contribution to the Olympic and Paralympic Games and their legacy. The projects recognised ranged from education, research and sport to culture, volunteering and international collaboration
The sports classification project was put forward by Professor Jan Burns of Canterbury Christchurch University who is also Head of Eligibility for Inas, and a member of the research project team. The research project, supported by Inas – the International Federation for Para-Athletes with an Intellectual Disability and IPC – the International Paralympic Committee, was a collaboration between a number of European and North American Universities. Its aim was to develop a method of classification – the process which measures an athlete’s impairment on sport performance – to enable athletes with a learning disability to compete in the Paralympic Games, beginning with London 2012.
Paul Deighton, CEO LOCOG said; “Colleges and Universities have played an integral role in supporting London 2012. I congratulate all involved with the Sport Classification for Paralympic Athletes with intellectual disabilities project on winning a gold medal at the Podium Awards. This project is a tremendous example of how the power of the Games is being used to inspire people to make a real and lasting difference.”
On receiving the award, Xavier Gonzalez, IPC Chief Executive said “ I am very happy and proud to receive this award for the classification research, but more than anything I am happy that athletes with an intellectual disability are back in the Paralympics’.
Dr Bob Price added “This award recognises the huge commitment of the research team – all of whom worked on this project in a voluntary capacity – but it also recognises the huge contribution of the many athletes and Inas member organisations who supported the project and worked with us to put in place the procedures needed to secure Paralympic re-inclusion”.
Athletes with an intellectual disability will participate in the London Paralympic Games for the first time since Sydney 2000, and will compete in Athletics, Swimming and Table Tennis.