Here at Komplex Care we enjoyed watching the Commonwealth Games over the last two weeks. Originally, the idea of the Commonwealth Games was to bring nations together in a colourful celebration of sport and human performance. Also known as the Friendly Games, The Commonwealth Games are held every four years and includes fully integrated para-sports events for athletes with a disability.
The Commonwealth Paraplegic Games were first open to athletes suffering from spinal injuries or polio in Perth in 1962. They took place separately to the Commonwealth Games held in the Australian city that year.
At the 2002 Commonwealth Games in Manchester, athletes with a disability were included as full members of their national teams, making them the first fully inclusive international multi-sport Games. This meant that results were included in the medal count. A total of 20 countries sent both male and female elite athletes with a disability to complete in 10 events in five different Para-sports. They were athletics, lawn bowls, swimming, table tennis and weightlifting.
It was fitting that the very first athlete with a disability to win a gold medal should be one of the most high-profile pioneers of Paralympic sport.
At the age of 13, Chantal Petitclerc lost the use of both legs in an accident when at a friend’s farm. A heavy barn door fell on her, fracturing her spine at the L1-T12 vertebra.
Introduced to wheelchair sport when she started university at the age of 18, she has since inspired people across the globe with her passion, dedication, and extraordinary athletic performances.
Petitclerc won the wheelchair 800 metres at Manchester 2002 in a race where she beat another Paralympic trailblazer, Australia’s Louise Sauvage.
“It meant so much to me that the Commonwealth Games decided that a performance is a performance – and it doesn’t matter if you accomplish it in a wheelchair,” said Petitclerc. “That was one of the best medals of my life.
The Commonwealth Games really helps in the fight for diversity and inclusion. The oldest gold medallist to date is Georgie Miller who won gold in lawn bowls for Scotland this year at the age of 75. Just two days previously, his 72-year-old teammate Rosemary Lenton became the oldest female gold medallist. In her Games debut, she helped Scotland win the Para women’s pairs bowls event in Birmingham, 2022
of our favourite diversity facts from the Commonwealth Games:
- For the first time in a global, multi-sport event, there are more women’s events than men’s events.
- The 2022 Games is expected to have the most events for women and disabled athletes in the history of the event.
- The oldest person to compete at the Games was 79-year-old Canadian shooter Robert Pitcairn who competed in 2018.
- The youngest person to compete at the Games was Anna Hursey who was age 11 when she represented Wales in doubles table tennis in 2018
If you couldn’t get a ticket for the Games, or you weren’t able to travel to Birmingham, you can catch up on full coverage of the Commonwealth Games 2022 on BBC iPlayer.