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

Knight/Dame

1

2

CBE

1

4

OBE

2

4

MBE

25

28

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
    +2

    Comment number 107.

    @68 Simon

    "...why not have the race for amputees held immediately after?"

    That's not integration! Do you not see how that would devalue the Paralympic event by having it AFTER the Olympic event. Back to the drawing board...

  • rate this
    +3

    Comment number 106.

    @47. RJS
    How do you propose to intergrate blind football with mainstream football?
    =======================

    At least the FA have made a start on this. Just look at every game Man U play - the ref is always blind

  • rate this
    +20

    Comment number 105.

    "Paralympians were not put on an equal footing with Olympic medallists"

    As they shouldn't be. It is a simple fact that their is less competition in the Paralympics and therefore their achievements do not equal those of the olympians.

  • rate this
    +102

    Comment number 104.

    They've already received an award for all their hard work - an Olympic medal! Honours should only be awarded to those individuals who have put in more then they got out and weren't looking for the recognition. That should apply to all of the honours categories, not just sport.
    (However, if people are to be given awards they should all be treated equally. Ten golds must be worth more than two.)

  • rate this
    +47

    Comment number 103.

    The "mistake" was to give an award to Cherie Blair!

  • rate this
    -2

    Comment number 102.

    OMG I just don't care......

  • rate this
    +2

    Comment number 101.

    These days it is considered brave to turn down the queens honours.

  • rate this
    +7

    Comment number 100.

    I was glued to the TV for the Olympics, I simply had no interest in the Paralympics.
    Watching the greatest athletes from across the world on home soil was a once in a lifetime experience.
    However, the Paralympics, over 98% of the UK can't compete as they are able bodied and very few other countries around the world take it seriously like in Britain.
    It may not be PC, but it's how I felt.

  • rate this
    +20

    Comment number 99.

    The honours system set precedent with Kelly Holmes and the like being made a Dame.

    Now we are getting paralympians like Lee Pearson being "disappointed" not to get a knighthood.

    Expecting a certain honour is moving away from it being a bestowed honour to one you feel is yours of right.

    As a ordinary guy winning a Gold medal would be the ultimate, please accept other honours given graciously.

  • rate this
    -40

    Comment number 98.

    Parliament is at war with the disabled, with IDS using ATOS as state sponsored executioners. So why are people surprised at the treatment of the Paralympians?

    There isn't anything left of Britain to be proud of anyway.

  • rate this
    +2

    Comment number 97.

    I will add, I think the whole honours system is out dated, and has no relevance to modern society.

    Rather like many other things we still keep hold of.(eg religion, royalty etc) Why do people get an Empire Medal? Empire?! Utterly ridiculous

    What a farce

  • rate this
    +47

    Comment number 96.

    Quite simply. If you think you deserve an honour, you probably don't.

  • rate this
    +12

    Comment number 95.

    Meanwhile back in Helmand province our real heroes are still dodging bullets in the name of oil...

  • rate this
    +10

    Comment number 94.

    Sanity has gone out the window. A British Paralympian is likely to be the only professional athlete in a field of less than 20 opponents. There is no comparison to the effort, training and desire required to win an Olympic medal. The "do-gooder" mentality has taken over and created a mass hysteria over the "achievements" of Paralympian. To even consider them with Olympians is ridiculous.

  • rate this
    +16

    Comment number 93.

    The honour system is a modern politcal joke.

    Honours should only be given to those who do something beyond and above their normal calling and who do it for no personal gain or reward.

  • rate this
    +26

    Comment number 92.

    All of the olympic athletes got a gold medal for winning their games. Why do they need more gongs? It's like jam on jam.

  • rate this
    +10

    Comment number 91.

    The whole honours system is a joke, but frankly Olympic medals are on a different level to the Paralympics - elite sport isn't about making allowances, it's about being the best at a sport regardless of anything else.

    I think the funding of disabled sport is important for the health of people but it is not elite sport to me and I will not be brow beaten by the PC brigade into saying it is.

  • rate this
    +8

    Comment number 90.

    Why has there got to be a balance just so it looks PC?? receiving honours shouldn't be the result of just winning a medal at the Olympics and Paralympics it should be for those who have done something extraordinary special. For example, what Chris Hoy, Steve Redgrave or Wiggins has achieved. Keep it special, don't ruin the value of them by giving them out like presents at christmas.

  • rate this
    +13

    Comment number 89.

    I thought the 'reward' for doing well as an Olympian (or Paralympian) was the Gold, Silver or Bronze medal that was awarded. Why do they require further recognition? To receive a 'gong' as well cheapens the Honours System and should be stopped now......or award 'gongs' retrospectively for all those Olympians/Paralympians who have succeeded in the past!!

  • rate this
    -27

    Comment number 88.

    I can understand Gerry Sutcliffe comments as paralympians have to put in twice the effort for the same rewards.

 

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