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 27.

    Doesn't matter what the topic is the media will always find someone who will complain that life is unfair.

    Welcome to 21st century Britain, a nation of "why not me" moaners.

  • rate this

    Comment number 26.

    I think the bigger mistake was one Hector Sants and Cherie Blair.

    We have a HYS that we are loosing faith in police maybe if they took action on the aforementioned we might have more.

    Well done to the athletes that did well I know the sacrifices that they put themselves through to achieve but thats all the should get a well done they are personal ambitions they achieve after all.

  • rate this

    Comment number 25.

    Another politician completely out of touch with the electorate.

    Most people would have been happy if the Olympic althlete just took their medals and were happy (and shared the public's joy at the time).

    You should not get a nighthood for riding a bike, sailing a boat or any other sport. The average person works 40 years, gets taxed to hell, never gets any recognition. What do they expect?

  • rate this

    Comment number 24.

    I don't see why any sportsmen/women should be getting a knighthood! Those risking their lives day in day out for nothing are the ones who we should be honouring and they are only mentioned when they are killed in action....

  • rate this

    Comment number 23.

    So what is Gerry Sutcliffe suggesting? That we should have some government quota for fulfilling honours? That hardly seems like equality to me. I don't mind honouring people like Steve Redgrave who has been a world beater for 20 odd years but just giving honours away because there are a certain number to give away each year seems plain daft to me. I'm suprised Cameron's budgie didn't get one.

  • rate this

    Comment number 22.

    Honours are supposed to be an honour and not a right. Otherwise every head-teacher, police officer, nurse would get one, instead of just the occasional few.

    My only complain with the honours this year was "Dame" Margaret Beckett. Really? Memories of the expenses scandal are truly short.

  • rate this

    Comment number 21.

    They should stop moaning and be thankfull they are not Vet athletes who receive no recognition whatsoever

  • rate this

    Comment number 20.

    You cannot compare the Olympics to the Paralympics. There just isnt the level of competition in the paras which is why the same people who are the least disabled win all the medals.

    Sarah Storey competes in an event where her disability is not an issue so I dont understand how she is allowed to even enter.

    Im surprised a left wing Politician is in favour of honours anyway.

  • rate this

    Comment number 19.

    The original BBC headline for the New Year's Honours list used the much over used word of 'Heros'. Surely the Paralympians are the real Heros.

    After the Paralympics, all the talk of these events creating a new perception of disabled people appears to be pure hype. As usual, we see the real UK - everyone is equal, it is just that some are more equal than others!

  • rate this

    Comment number 18.

    Firstly the honours system is a sad joke.

    Also I know i will get hammered but In fairness some Olympians are the best at what they do in the whole world including everyone (well apart from Women where men are not allowed to compete against them).

    Paralympians are mostly the best in their category, it's not the same and it is all you can ask of them but that it how it is.

  • rate this

    Comment number 17.

    Sorry but the number of athletes completing for able bodied medals far exceeds those at the paras. There are a limited number of countries who give their disabled the support and equipment to compete. So medals are comparatively easier to win. Incidentally, I put the same caveat against the able bodied cyclists, rowers and riders. By comparison the competition facing Farah and Ennis is enormous.

  • rate this

    Comment number 16.

    The biggest joke is Stella McCartney being recognised for her contribution to fashion - you can find better clothes in an Oxfam shop.

  • rate this

    Comment number 15.

    Disappointed for David Weir and Lee Pearson whose achievements were outstanding.

  • rate this

    Comment number 14.

    They give them to anyone these days. They mean nothing.

  • rate this

    Comment number 13.

    It does appear a little uneven, paralympians however have done a great deal towards the general public recognising their huge efforts, and that it must be so much harder to get support and sponsorship. Hope that we may see regular spots on general BBC sports programmes of sports for able and disabled sports events which would make a huge difference.

  • rate this

    Comment number 12.

    A lot of voluntary sector workers feel the same way no doubt.

    Would some positive discrimination make it all better? Perhaps we could have a quota?

    Lastly, only a (former) government minister could imagine that giving someone a knighthood would 'inspire a generation'. Says it all really.

  • rate this

    Comment number 11.

    I think it's a big insult when people like Cherie Blair receive honours and more deserving people don't.

  • rate this

    Comment number 10.

    It had obviously been forgotten that these awards are meant to be a privilege, not an expectation. (I am speaking about the arrogant comments made by Lee Pearson).

  • rate this

    Comment number 9.

    So Gerry Sutcliffe appears to view the number of honours awarded to Olympians and Paralympians as a competition and has come to the conclusion that the Paralympians only won the Silver Medal for the number of Gongs awarded, and has concluded that's not fair.

    No doubt he views this as some kind of discrimination - some people look for things that simply are not there.

  • rate this

    Comment number 8.

    Some people work hard all there lives and don't get a medal,so why so many to the olympians in one year.


Page 34 of 35


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