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 507.

    the limited field of paralympics, compared to olympics means medals are easier to win. Not PC maybe, but true!
    Not really 'un-PC', but actually not true. You obviously didn't attend any Paralympic events. I did. And this IS true: the Paralympics are the REAL Olympics.

  • rate this

    Comment number 506.

    Sorry to sound harsh (and no I can't be bothered to read the previous 500+ posts) - but I do my job and I do it well - no recognition here - I firmly believe that these "New Year Gongs" have been seriously devalued over the last 10/15 years - more to do with publicity/one-offs rather than solid service (in whatever service) over a number of years ... like it used to be ...

  • rate this

    Comment number 505.

    Kenneth Grange gets a knighthood at 83 for a lifetime's achievement whilst these guys get it for a single achievement? Remember the English cricket team all honoured for winning the Ashes that immediately disappeared into obscurity? Honours should be given for long term success and benefit to the nation not for celebrity and more should be given to the ordinary unsung people everyday heroes.

  • rate this

    Comment number 504.

    On a purely % basis of athletes to events entered, it
    looks like the Paralympians actually came off better.?

  • rate this

    Comment number 503.

    Surely the 'big mistake' is that one of the codebreakers from Bletchley Park has had to wait until now to get an honour, amidst a group of people getting honours for merely being entertaining (admittedly in difficult and talented ways).

  • rate this

    Comment number 502.

    The numbers look very similar to me, with only a minimal difference in favour of the "main" event, which must surely be the Olympics. A lot of fuss about nothing.

  • rate this

    Comment number 501.

    All sounds OTT politically correctness to me. The contributor who said they got their reward in medals is totally correct.Plenty of worthies out there who never get recognised for their efforts.Think of them!

  • rate this

    Comment number 500.

    480. He is dead. So bit difficult.

  • rate this

    Comment number 499.

    It's simple, do not give honours to *any* athletes for merely doing their job. The honours should only be for outstanding ongoing achievement in whatever field.

  • rate this

    Comment number 498.

    the equality impact assessment was replaced by the right of birth assessment at the beginning of this parliament any government that's leader has vowed to slash benefits to the disabled now renamed shirkers by the pm will not receive honors no matter what the achievement

  • rate this

    Comment number 497.

    This government is supposed to be encouraging disabled people into sport, but if you are disabled, DO NOT, under any circumstances take up a sport as this government will only do to you what they did to me and take your disabled entitlements off you, believe me THEY WILL !! Its just a trap to get you playing sport and to help them save money. I took up sport recently and lost my DLA. WHY !!

  • rate this

    Comment number 496.

    Just another MP trying to increase his own public profile.....

  • rate this

    Comment number 495.

    Sorry, but by their complaining they have devalued those who did win. We would all have liked to see more win, but they should be thankful they won as many as they did. This is just the kind of thing that puts people off the honours system.

  • rate this

    Comment number 494.

    These awards have descended, even further, into farce...

  • rate this

    Comment number 493.

    New Years honours handed out too easily for those who won in London 2012, from nowhere, devalue the awards, but rewarding those winners in London 2012 who have also won or battled in previous games & are now "hanging up their boots" reward then for their years of service. Complaints that Mo F should have been knighted were wrong, but those paralympians, who have given years to the sport are not.

  • rate this

    Comment number 492.

    7 Minutes ago
    Did the coalition government perform an equality impact assessment on the list before it went forward?
    The government don't manage the list.

  • rate this

    Comment number 491.

    My mum's sister's boyfriend's uncle's wife met someone in the supermarket who knew someone who'd managed to get a ticket to one of the olympic events... surely they deserve an honour?!

  • rate this

    Comment number 490.

    All the Olympic competitors have had their moment of fame.

    They have not found a cure for cancer.
    They have not helped the poor of the UK.
    Some do not even live in the UK.

    What many HAVE done is secure a bright financial future for themselves.
    Good luck to them, none of them are people that will go down in history for changing the face of Britain for the ordinary British people.

  • rate this

    Comment number 489.

    It's very hard to gain an Olympic Medal for all athleres, but statistically it IS easier to win a paralympic medal. Although it was a huge success in London it is still a much smaller event. No athlete trains day in day out for a Knighthood, or a Sportspersonality vote, but if they do lets celebrate not criticise.

  • rate this

    Comment number 488.

    Remember one of the original Olympic ideals? It's about the taking part...?


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