Saturday, 29 August, represents exactly three years to go to the start of the London 2012 Paralympic Games and the London Organizing Committee of the Olympic Games and Paralympic Games (LOCOG) marked the milestone date by announcing the appointment of Chris Holmes, MBE as its new Director of Paralympic Integration.
Chris will lead on all aspects of London 2012’s planning and organization for the Paralympic Games. He has had a distinguished career as a Paralympic swimmer, winning nine Paralympic gold medals, six at the Barcelona Games in 1992. He is a Patron of the ‘Help for Heroes’ charity and the British Paralympic Association, has been a board member at UK Sport since 2005 and was a Commissioner on the board of the Disability Rights Commission from 2002-2007, as well as practicing at a leading City international law firm.
Furthermore, the Three Years to Go milestone was marked by a visit to the Aquatics Centre on the Olympic Park by Paralympic swimmer Ellie Simmonds and Chris Holmes.
Progress on the Paralympic front in the last year includes:
The Olympic Delivery Authority published its Inclusive Design Strategy last year which sets out the framework for how the Olympic Park is being designed and constructed to be accessible to people with a disability. These standards have since been adopted by other organisations and bodies as an example of best practice.
LOCOG is undertaking detailed work at the moment on accessible venue designs, and the overlay requirements for temporary venues to ensure that spectators with a disability have an enjoyable experience at Games-time.
LOCOG will run a Games Mobility service for spectators with a disability at both the Olympic and Paralympic Games. This is a service which is designed to provide assistance with spectator movement through public areas and within all competition venues.
LOCOG is also looking at all aspects of accessibility in the capital, to make sure that spectators with a disability are able to move around the city comfortably and easily.
Planning permission has been submitted for Eton Manor which will be the Wheelchair Tennis venue during the Games. It will be used as a training facility during the Olympic Games, and after the Paralympic Games it will be transformed to a Hockey centre, a Tennis centre and Football 5-a-side pitches.
LOCOG’s Cultural Olympiad team will launch its third major project Unlimited early this autumn. Developed in partnership with the UK Arts Councils and the British Council, Unlimited will be the UK’s largest ever celebration of arts, disability culture and sport.
London 2012 partners are firmly behind the Paralympic Games with a range of activities. These include Lloyds TSB which runs a “Local Heroes” campaign featuring young Paralympic hopefuls, BT is the presenting partner of the Paralympic World Cup, Deloitte runs a Parasport programme giving disabled people access to sport all over the country, adidas are kit suppliers to ParalympicsGB and British Airways has a partnership with UK Sport which benefits athletes across 20 Paralympic sports.
LOCOG launched last year the ‘>access now’ recruitment outreach programme for persons with a disability, which offers a guaranteed interview for every candidate with a disability that meets the person specification for any salaried role at the organisation.
Key priorities in the next year will be to carry on detailed operational planning on all aspects of the Games as well as develop a public awareness campaign to educate the public about Paralympic sport and help them understand and enjoy what they watch in 2012.
Sebastian Coe, Chairman of the London 2012 Organizing Committee, said: “In three years time we will be welcoming the Paralympic Games home and we will deliver a spectacular showcase for Paralympic Sport. However, we have greater ambitions. This is a golden opportunity to raise awareness of Paralympic Sport, challenge stereotypes about disability and secure a legacy which would see every child with a disability having access to sport. I have been completely blown away by the performances of Paralympic athletes who were doing things that so-called ‘able-bodied’ people could not hope to achieve. We have always been proud to be the Organizing Committee of the Olympic Games and Paralympic Games. The Paralympic Games are key to our ambitions to use the Games to be a catalyst for lasting change.”
Chris Holmes commented: “I am honoured to be taking up this position and it is a dream come true for me. My role is to ensure we continue our detailed work for a first class delivery of the Paralympic Games in 2012. My priorities are to educate our audiences so they understand and enjoy Paralympic Sport. The Games offer a truly unique opportunity for our country – a chance to change Britain for the better.”
Olympics Minister Tessa Jowell said: "With three years to go preparations are well underway to ensure that the London 2012 Paralympic Games will be a spectacular showcase for disability sporting talent from all corners of the world. Last year our Paralympic athletes captured the hearts and minds of the whole nation; we are determined that London 2012 will help raise the profile of disability sport and leave a lasting legacy for disabled people around the UK.”
The Mayor of London Boris Johnson said: "The London 2012 Games give Paralympics GB the chance to repeat their success of a year ago in Beijing, and wow the world with another thumping medal haul. This time though it will be on home soil, which means that there will be thousands of Brits to cheer our extraordinary Paralympians on to the finishing line. What better way to mark this moment than to have Chris come on board to help Seb and his team stage the best Paralympics ever."
Sir Philip Craven, President of the International Paralympic Committee, said: "London has already manifested its high interest in creating a great Paralympic Games with various programmes for athletes and people with a perceived disability. Although it is still three years away, London has made clear efforts to move quickly down the path of preparation for the Paralympic Games in 2012. The new infrastructure that is revitalizing the Lower Lea Valley as well as accessible sporting venues are just two examples of the tremendous legacy that will remain after the Games."
Phil Lane, Chief Executive of ParalympicsGB said: “We are excited at the prospect of a Paralympic Games on home soil and are pleased that operational planning is progressing well. We are underway with our own planning for 2012 but are always looking to identify new Paralympic talent, with our next recruitment session happening at Brunel University on 29th September.”
For further information please contact the London 2012 Press Office on +44 (0)203 2012 100 or visit the website at www.london2012.com.