"However, when it comes to Paralympic Sport I am concerned that some people prefer to give credit to the role of technology in an athlete smashing a world record over their actual performance."
International Paralympic Committee (IPC) President Sir Philip Craven has said there is a danger of people claiming advancements in technology are behind record breaking performances at London 2012 rather than improved athletic performance.
Speaking at the London Science Museum at the launch of Ottobock’s ‘Passion for Paralympics’ travelling exhibition, Sir Philip said he expects many records to be broken during the Paralympic Games and that athletes should be given the full praise they rightly deserve.
Sir Philip Craven, a former Great Britain Wheelchair Basketball player, said: “Technology plays a key part in the improvement of all sports – both Paralympic and able bodied.
“Whether it be lighter boots or balls for footballers, special suits for swimmers, or running blades or lightweight running shoes for sprinters, technology has helped in the advancement of performance.
“However, when it comes to Paralympic Sport I am concerned that some people prefer to give credit to the role of technology in an athlete smashing a world record over their actual performance.
“This pays a total disservice to the outstanding performances of our elite full-time athletes who, just like their able bodied counterparts, follow punishing training regimes that push their body to the limit.”
The IPC President used the performances of a number of track and field athletes to highlight his point that improved times were more down to athletes becoming full-time as opposed to technological improvements.
“In the last three years Oscar Pistorius has knocked two and a half seconds off his 400m personal best,” explained Sir Philip. “He’s achieved this running on the same blades for the last seven years. Very few people give him credit for this and instead prefer to claim he has some sort of advantage.
“Oscar’s only advantage, like all Paralympians, is his sheer determination to be the best. I’d like to think his punishing training regime, which has seen him lose 17kg , has been the biggest factor in his improved speed.”
Sir Philip also pointed out how achievements are improving across all sports, including some track and field events where the only technology required is a running vest, shorts and running spikes.
“To underline my point that the improvement in world records is down to the athletes improved training regimes as opposed to purely the advancement of technology we should use the T38 class for athletes with cerebral palsy,” Sir Philip said.
“At the last three Paralympic Games the 100m world record has fallen from 11.56 seconds in 2000 to 10.96 seconds in 2008,” he said.
Looking ahead to the London 2012 Paralympic Games which begin on 29 August, Sir Philip believes the millions of spectators in the venues and billions watching on TV around the world will be in for a treat.
Sir Philip said: “The London 2012 Paralympics will be a record breaker with hundreds of world and Paralympic records
smashed as a result of full-time training programmes, advancements in sports science and, in some cases, technology.
“The Paralympics cannot take place without the services and technology Ottobock provides, however world records cannot be broken without athletes who have trained for years to hit their peak during London 2012.”
Ottobock’s ‘Passion for Paralympics’ travelling exhibition will visit Glasgow, Manchester and London, with other cities to be announced, starting from 17 April. It aims to raise awareness of Paralympic Sport and the competing athletes in the run up to the London 2012 Paralympic Games and will offer the public the chance to learn about the technology, history and spirit behind the Games.
Sir Philip added: “Ottobock is a much valued IPC worldwide partner and we are delighted that this exhibition will help spread ‘Passion for the Paralympics’ by touring the country.
“The London 2012 Paralympic Games are set to be the best yet and this exhibition will give the public a greater understanding of the Games and our athletes, as well as some of the technology our athletes use during competition and their day-to-day lives.”