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 307.

    All Athletes able bodied or Disabled win medals for themselves, get paid well for what they do and should be satisfied they are able to work in a field that they love unlike most who work to survive in jobs they hate. In one way Disable Athletes are right how others are favoured over them for top gongs but these awards are outmoded, largely not deserved and a form of subservience to the crown.

  • rate this

    Comment number 306.

    I think nowadays Knighthood, OBE, CBE, and the rest of them are given to lightly! Migg Jagger, Elton John, and now, athletics! It should be a recognition of a lifetime achievement not just a few medals and concerts! Sir Migg Jagger, Sir Bradley Wiggins! Not for me!

  • rate this

    Comment number 305.

    the disabled ones aren't as good as the non-disabled ones so that's probably why

  • rate this

    Comment number 304.

    It doesnt matter whether you are an Olympian, a paralympion a community volunteer or whatever you do, no one has a 'RIGHT' to an honour, Lee Pearson does himself no good by saying he should have got a Knighthood. He devalues his fellow sports people by such arrogance. The whole system is balanced in favour of celebrities and sportspeople any way so be thankful for your OBE!

  • rate this

    Comment number 303.

    Any knighthoods should go to to the local public toilet cleaner,or the cares in an old folks home who change the clothing and bed sheets of the incontinent! No one deserves to be honored higher than these "working class heroes"!

  • rate this

    Comment number 302.

    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.

    And there lies the problem, these so called 'honours' mean so little they are now expected.

  • rate this

    Comment number 301.

    If the awards were more rarified, there would not be much argument about discrimination when the list came out because it would be so short. Hopefully it would be populated by a genuinely rare type of person, regardless of their abilities/disabilities.

  • Comment number 300.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • rate this

    Comment number 299.

    He's quite right, of course. What better way of showing that we're an integrated, meritocratic society free of prejudice than to condescendingly place disabled people on a pedestal for doing their jobs?

    Fatuous remarks.

  • rate this

    Comment number 298.

    Those who excel at Olympic level are at the pinnacle of their sport in world terms. The level of competition at the Paralympics is not in the same league by a very long way. You would not find a 46 year old winning olympic endurance events but as the field of potential competitors is so small oddities occur. There isn't equality of competition so why on earth should there be equality of honours?

  • rate this

    Comment number 297. let me get this straight. The only controversy arising from the honours announced yesterday, is that not enough of them have gone to sportsmen and sportswomen.

    Right. Time for me to move, I think.

  • rate this

    Comment number 296.

    I agree in principle with the honours system but it has now descended into a farce.
    Nobody, but nobody deserves any honour, if all that they have done is their job, no matter how well they have done it. That includes civil servants and retired government ministers.
    Honours should be awarded only to those who have consistently carried out functions above and beyond their calling.

  • rate this

    Comment number 295.

    I heard on the grapevine that the next winner of ' i am a celebrity' will be automatically awarded an MBE.....

  • rate this

    Comment number 294.

    NONE of them should have received ''awards''!! Especially the PLASTIC Brits!!...They are WELL PAID for their ''work'' many funded by the taxpayer or the Lottery......THAT is ALL they deserve!!!

  • rate this

    Comment number 293.

    Interesting to note that Seb Coe, one of our greatest olympians, only received an MBE during his running career, upgraded to an OBE after his retirement.
    I agree with the comments that we should be more sparing with honours in general and that the paralympians received an overly generous number of awards.

  • rate this

    Comment number 292.

    Honours should be restricted to those hard working thrifty politicians, civil servants who tie up the country in bureaucracy, D-list celebrities, particularly the tax dodging kind and well funded sport stars who train and live abroad. The one thing the paralympics have done is make the general public think that any disabled person can run 800 m so they must be benefit scroungers.

  • rate this

    Comment number 291.

    Just because you have succeeded at your job, able bodied or not, does not mean you deserve any honours. Multiple success, I.e. Ben Ainsley or unique success as with Bradley Wiggins seems fair. Winning celebrity for "winning a race" is no justification for honours unless that success is maintained in the long term. Many people, able bodies or otherwise succeed in many fields with no expectations.

  • rate this

    Comment number 290.

    olympics, honours - all part of the same sad shebang which no-one actually wants.

  • rate this

    Comment number 289.

    I suggest they set up a commission to look into this, chaired by Keith Vaz, with unlimited expenses and a knighthood as a reward for all of his efforts.

  • rate this

    Comment number 288.

    I feel the honours system has fallen into disrepute (if it was anything but that) judging from some of the people who have received them since inception.
    So when I hear of people saying thanks , but no thanks, I give a little cheer.


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