Paralympians 'should have received more honours'

David Weir

Former sports minister Gerry Sutcliffe says members of the New Year honours committee made a "big mistake" in not recognising more Paralympic athletes.

He said Paralympians were not put on an equal footing with Olympic medallists and that was a "missed opportunity".

Wheelchair athlete David Weir, who was made a CBE after winning four gold medals, has suggested Paralympians have to work harder to earn recognition.

Cyclist Sarah Storey became a dame, the top award to a Paralympian this year.

Olympic cyclist Bradley Wiggins and sailor Ben Ainslie were knighted

Cycling and rowing performance directors Dave Brailsford and David Tanner were knighted for their services to both Olympic and Paralympic Games.

Four Olympians were made CBEs.

In total, 29 athletes from ParalympicsGB were recognised following their achievements in the summer.

'Inspire a generation'

Mr Sutcliffe told BBC Radio 4's The World This Weekend: "If you remember, at the start of the year there was confusion over whether the Olympians and Paralympians would get honours; the committee said it was unlikely. We managed to get them to change their mind and have a separate category for Olympians and Paralympians."

Saying they had had made a "big mistake" in not awarding the highest honour to Paralympians like Weir, he said: "There was an opportunity to be consistent and if you look at his record over several Olympics I think the least he should have got is a knighthood.

"Because the whole purpose of the Games was to inspire a generation - and how better to inspire a generation of Paralympians than to give somebody a knighthood?"

Honour Paralympians Olympians













Commenting on his Twitter account, Jonnie Peacock - who has become an MBE after winning gold in the Paralympics T44 100m sprint - asked "how much more" does Weir have to do "to get a knighting?!".

Six-time Paralympic gold medallist Weir told the Daily Telegraph he would have been disappointed if Storey had not been made a dame, which she had deserved after winning 11 gold medals.

"It's a weird one, how they choose it. Sometimes it seems that Paralympians have to win lots and lots of medals to get a damehood or a knighthood.

"Kelly Holmes was made a dame when she won two gold medals, but it seems we have to get into double figures to get it. Sarah Storey should have been awarded this years ago, and I just feel that sometimes we are left out, perhaps because we are not in the public eye.

How do they choose?

The sporting honours committee has four criteria:

  • general performance
  • longevity in the sport
  • how much they give back to the sporting community
  • how long before they retire

Source: Cabinet Office

"It is a bit strange, but I am just honoured to get anything from the Queen for doing a sport I love."

On his Twitter account, Weir later emphasised that he was "extremely happy" with his CBE, and had been saying he was surprised that Storey had been overlooked in the past.

Dressage rider Lee Pearson OBE told The Independent on Sunday he was "disappointed" not to get a knighthood after winning his 10th gold medal at the Paralympics this summer.

Pearson said: "Obviously, 10 gold, one silver and one bronze just isn't enough. I'm disappointed because I do feel I've given a lot to Paralympic sport and equestrianism. I think 10 gold medals is quite an achievement."

Sophie Christiansen, who won three golds in the London Paralympics to add to her two gold medals from 2008, said she was delighted to have been made an OBE.

"It's amazing. Aged 25 to be recognised in such a way, I really am honoured so I'm not complaining."


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  • rate this

    Comment number 687.

    681. Nurses and doctors are now paid extremely well.

  • rate this

    Comment number 686.

    I feel quite honoured by just being disabled from an accident 37 years ago that was not my fault & then lived through it so far without moaning or being a burden on someone else or blaming them for it. When I had my business I paid over 10K in tax one year alone & always paid all my dues!... Right!...What am I getting?...HASSLE!!!!

  • rate this

    Comment number 685.

    And when you see the nature of how these awards are handed out,it all explains why we see these Tycoons who make 1000''s of their own employees a misery with mass redundancies for profit but are quite happy to embark on a charity only for the opportunity to indulge in self ingratiating feigned altruism for a knighthood.
    These narcissists make me sick.Because they just don't mean it.

  • rate this

    Comment number 684.

    @ 204 The fact is that Sir Jimmy Saville got his honour for a lifetime of charity work, raising millions in the process. He was never charged or convicted of any criminal offence.

  • rate this

    Comment number 683.

    Personally, I'm glad my hero, Nat Lofthouse, was never knighted. It's now more special NOT to have an honour.

    PS. Yes I know he received an OBE but they give those away in cereal boxes.

  • rate this

    Comment number 682.

    David Cameron erit profecto esse eques ob merita infretus et
    rebus oeconomicis procursu mentio pro tax fugam.Surge sir

  • rate this

    Comment number 681.

    Sorry but WHY? Are we giving honours to people who are paid extremely well for the job they do? The armed services put their lives on the line for a smaller wage than Olympians and get nothing in return.MP's and civil servants get honours for what?doing a job the tax payers pay for,with a LARGE pension.
    Doctors and nurses saves lives on a daily basis and get nothing,volunteers who give all

  • rate this

    Comment number 680.

    I don't remember Weir complaining when he and other Paralympians were disproportionately represented in the the shortlist for the 2012 Sports Personality Of The Year. When Dame Kelly Holmes won double gold, she was top of the pile of thousands of athletes in a highly competitive sport. I think political correctness and good will to Paralympic movement has good to Mr Weir's head.

  • rate this

    Comment number 679.

    When it comes to sport, there are often team awards (cricket, football etc for team success), and then are those awards for individuals. Many people won Gold or Silver, but just winning Gold does not, always, mean your performance was exceptional and thus deserving of a gong. Most awards are made for a lifetime of achievement, so many of the younger ones winning in London, they still have time.

  • rate this

    Comment number 678.

    674. Because he won the US Open.

  • rate this

    Comment number 677.

    Sometimes I think we really are a nation of whingers. It's incredible after all of the positive messages we've been getting from London 2012, people still find time to whinge about an honours system, which is frankly just a bonus. Some people aren't happy unless they're miserable

  • rate this

    Comment number 676.

    @673 There is to be an Early Day Motion calling for Alex Fergusons knighthood to be removed.

  • rate this

    Comment number 675.

    To be honest , why is that important that people get some sort of seal of approval from the Royal Family ?
    It really gives credence to a nation of forelock tuggers with a peasant mentality yearning for a pat on the head.

  • rate this

    Comment number 674.

    #671.E Doyle
    "Andy Murray should have been knighted"

    Because he's a Scot living in SE England, or because he got an Olympic gold medal?

  • rate this

    Comment number 673.

    If you look at some of the sporting knighthoods they are ridiculous, Alex Fergusen's one for example. Given, he is a good manager, but he hardly is a good ambassedor for the sport or anything for that matter.

    Odious people should not be given honours.

  • rate this

    Comment number 672.

    Not sure I get this.
    Olympic competitors, disabled or not, have shown utter dedication to their sport and been a source of pride and inspiration to us all. Winning a medal must be fantastic but getting to the stage where you qualify to compete is a huge feat in itself.
    Surely winning a medal and the associated sponsorship deals etc is an adequate reward and a "gong" an irrelevant anachronism?

  • rate this

    Comment number 671.

    Andy Murray should have been knighted.

  • rate this

    Comment number 670.

    Andrew Murray an OBE ? Why ? Why just disabled athletes have more than the rest ? Its is PC ?
    Stop the lot of all medals !

  • rate this

    Comment number 669.

    D What a sad ignorant and disrespectful comment regarding our armed forces. You should be ashamed of yourself.

  • rate this

    Comment number 668.

    What ever the merits of Paralympic Athletes or indeed able bodied as far as Honours are concerned ,I feel more strongly about the fact that Alan Turing has still received NO official pardon,with respect to ALL recipients of any honour!


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