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INTERVIEW


Sir Philip Craven MBE


The president of the International Paralympic Committee tells Karen Maxwell why the Paralympic Games has the power to change the world and create a more equal society


S


ir Philip Craven dislikes the word ‘disability’. “The word is purely negative and there’s no need for it,” he says. He admits that it’s up to


the individual sportsperson as to how they want their sport referred to when a situation needs to be described. But used glibly, he says, “it kicks everyone off on the wrong foot, which means we have to fight back towards a balanced position in the sporting spectrum, before we can even start to move forward.” A wheelchair user himself, Craven is


president of the International Para- lympic Committee (IPC), the governing body of the international Paralympic Movement. His sentiment echoes the movement’s vision, which he helped to author nearly 10 years ago. “‘En- able’ is the most important word in our mission statement,” he says. “We’re committed to empowering athletes – from beginner to elite – to do their own thing and to provide a stage for them to do it on.” The ‘stage’ refers to the IPC’s


role as organiser of the Summer and Winter Paralympic Games, in addition to world and re- gional championships and other competitions – associated with its role of international federa- tion for nine Paralympic sports.


Raising the profile Bringing parasport to world attention is a role Craven takes very seri- ously. Since the IPC’s first Strategic Plan in early 2003, the organisation, togeth- er with the Paralympic Movement, has created a sound financial base and has transformed from a disability organisa- tion into a sports organisation. The new Strategic Plan 2011-2014 focuses on the core business – Games, athletes and the IPC brand, as well as the tactical goals of


funding, capacity and partnerships. A five-time Paralympian, Paralympic


swimmer and world champion in wheel- chair basketball, Craven’s administrative career includes performance director, CEO and three terms as chair of the Great Britain Wheelchair Basketball Association, before he was appointed


“At the Barcelona Olympics in 1992, the wheelchair basketball


players suddenly found themselves in front of 12,500 people rather than the average 1,000”


president of the International Wheel- chair Basketball Federation in 1998. He also serves on several internation-


al boards – including the International Olympic Committee (IOC), the British Olympic Association and the London Organising Committee for the Olympic and Paralympic Games (LOCOG). “I was involved with the IPC through my wheelchair basketball role and as


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such was a member of the IPC Sports Council,” he explains. “At that time I thought a lot of work needed to be done to raise the profile of Paralympic sports. However, I clearly remember the Barcelona 1992 Paralympic Games as being the key event when I felt that things were about to change.” Credited as the largest show-


case of elite Paralympic sport at that time, tens of thousands of Spanish supporters witnessed some exceptional performances during the 12 days of competi- tion, including the USA’s visually impaired swimmer Trischa Zorn, who won an impressive 10 Gold and two Silver medals. According to Craven the


event’s success was partly because a number of Paralympic sports had be- come better organised, however, it was the combination of the sports-mad Spanish public and the support of the then IOC president, Spaniard Juan An- tonio Samaranch – whose long-standing dream was that his city would host the Olympic and Paralympic Games side by side – that cemented its success.


Issue 3 2011 © cybertrek 2011


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