The Paralympic Order, the highest accolade anyone connected with the Paralympic Movement can achieve, has been awarded to Ann Cody and Miguel Sagarra, both long-time members on the International Paralympic Committee (IPC) Governing Board.
The Orders were presented during the IPC General Assembly on 6 September in Abu Dhabi, UAE. Cody and Sagarra joined Paul DePace, Karl Vilhelm Nielsen, Gerard Masson and Sir Philip Craven in receiving the Paralympic Orders this year.
A three-time Paralympian in wheelchair basketball and athletics, Ann Cody represented Team USA between 1984 and 1992, winning five medals, including one gold. She was elected to the IPC Governing Board in 2005 and had since provided valuable advice and guidance, particularly from an athlete’s viewpoint, during her three terms.
Cody has served as a member of the International Olympic Committee (IOC) Evaluation Commission for the 2018 Games, chair of both the IPC Education and Women in Sport Committees, member of the IOC Women and Sport Commission and member of the International Wheelchair Basketball Federation (IWBF) Executive Council.
Her contributions to the Movement have also been global. She served as Director of Policy and Global Outreach for BlazeSports America, and established strong ties with the US Agency for International Development. In her business career, she has held many senior corporate positions in Washington DC and is currently Senior Foreign Affairs Officer in the Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights, and Labour in the US State Department.
“Away from practicing sport, Ann has done much to develop sport and the rights of people with an impairment both at home and abroad,” Sir Philip said. “Her leadership and contributions to the Paralympic Movement extend beyond her international service.”
Cody said: “The Paralympic Movement helped shape my life. Contributing to its growth and development over the past 25 years has been challenging and tremendously rewarding. It has been a privilege to work alongside so many smart, talented, committed leaders and athletes in the global Paralympic Movement. I'm grateful to have had the opportunity to serve and I want to thank US Paralympics and the IPC membership for their partnership and support.”
Miguel Sagarra has been involved in the highest levels of the IPC for more than 20 years, the wider Paralympic Movement for even longer and has dedicated much of his life to improving the lives of people with an impairment.
In 1977 he started out an administrator at a social rehabilitation centre for blind adults in his home town of Sabadell, Cataluna, Spain. Eleven years later he joined the ONCE Foundation, an organisation for people with visual impairments. As Secretary General of the Spanish Paralympic Committee he has seen his country finish in the top 20 of the medals table ever since his appointment in 1996. For both the Athens 2004 and Sochi 2014 Games he was a member of the IOC Co-ordination Commissions and was part of the IOC Evaluation Commission for the 2014 Games.
“For the last eight years he has been a much valued and much loved member of the IPC Governing Board who is seen as a mentor by many,” Sir Philip said. “There is nothing he does not know about the Paralympic Movement or the politics of international sport. He has witnessed pretty much everything.”
Sagarra said: “Receiving the Paralympic Order in Abu Dhabi was something that I will never, ever forget. I cannot think on a better moment and a better way to receive it. It was a huge, huge surprise and I was, actually I still am, choked, overwhelmed, excited and extremely happy. Wow!
“I can only express my deepest gratitude to everybody but specially to all our amazing athletes since they have always been my energy, my source of inspiration. They have been an important part of my life and they will continue playing an important role forever.”
Previous recipients of the Paralympic Order have included former IOC President Jacques Rogge, Lord Sebastian Coe and Dr. Whang Youn Dai.