London 2012 - Grey-Thompson hits out at Paralympic merge talk

Thu, 01 Mar 23:08:00 2012

Tanni Grey-Thompson has hit back at suggestions the Olympics and Paralympics should be merged.

Baroness Grey Thompson - 0

Almost two-thirds of disabled people want just one event, according to a survey carried out on behalf of charity Scope.

But Grey-Thompson, Britain's most successful woman Paralympian with 11 gold medals, believes people have failed to think it through.

"I’d love to see a combined World Athletics Championships but that is it," she said.

"For an Olympics and Paralympics to be together would inevitably mean a lot of Paralympics events would get cut and you’d be getting rid of a whole raft of athletes."

Grey Thompson has previously admitted concern that athletes attempting to compete in both events, such as South Africa's Oscar Pistorius, run the risk of reducing the Paralympics to a B final.

And according to Scope's survey, 20 percent of respondents believed the Games make disabled people appear second class, while 22 percent thought the event was patronising towards them.

However, British Paralympic Association officials are determined the London 2012 Games change public perceptions, insisting their lofty medal targets sit alongside the job of raising awareness and understanding of disability.

With just over six months to go, journalists covering the Games have been issued with a language guideline advisory.

According to the eight-page document, athletes should never be described as wheelchair bound or confined to a wheelchair.

It also advises to avoid phrases such as suffers from, afflicted with and victim of.

Media are also warned against referring to the Olympics as the 'main Games' while the phrase non-disabled athlete is preferred to able-bodied.

“In sport, as in every other aspect of public life, language matters," added Grey Thompson.

"It defines who we are, how we are perceived and the impression we leave.

"This is why having guidelines around reporting of Paralympic sport is so important. We’re not being politically correct - it’s very important to get best practise established so that the wider effect of the Paralympic Games is as powerful as possible.”

Tim Hollingsworth, the BPA's chief executive, believes Great Britain are on course to repeat the success of the Beijing Paralympics, where they finished second on the medal table, behind hosts China, with 102 medals, including 42 golds.

“Whilst we have a performance ambition of achieving second place on the medal table with more medals across more sports, of equal importance is our ambition to change perceptions," he said.

Sportsbeat / Eurosport

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