The voices of Para athletes grew louder in 2017.
In June, the first International Paralympic Committee (IPC) Athletes’ Forum was held, bringing together athletes from around the world across different sports with aims to see how their voices can be heard on the decision-making tables.
This year saw significant improvement in getting athletes involved more in the Paralympic Movement outside the competition field and ensuring that they remain the centre of the Movement – marking No. 6 on the IPC’s Top 50 Moments of 2017.
At the Forum in Duisburg, Germany, more than 80 athletes from 22 International Federations (IFs), 35 National Paralympic Committees (NPCs) as well as representation from the WADA Athlete Commission and the International Olympic Committee (IOC) Athlete Commission, had an opportunity to interact directly with each other, as well with IPC representatives on various topics relating to the Paralympic Movement.
Chelsey Gotell, who was elected as Chairperson of the IPC Athletes’ Council earlier in 2017, said: “To be a truly athlete-centred organisation, we need to ensure our athletes are informed and educated, and have the ability to be part of the dialogue and decisions that directly impact them. The Forum proved that we have very intelligent, knowledgeable and informed athletes from across the world who are very vocal within their respective sports and countries.”
Athletes participated in two different Proud Paralympian workshops to support them both on and off the field of play, and were led by Proud Paralympian leaders, Ileana Rodriguez and Tim Prendergast.
Athletes did get to showcase their competitive spirit by playing sports. Rio 2016 silver and bronze medallist Grigorios Polychronidis led a boccia demonstration and competition, while Worldwide Paralympic Partner Ottobock provided eight brand-new playing chairs for participants to play wheelchair basketball with former player and former IPC President Sir Philip Craven, and German Paralympic champion Annika Zeyen leading the games.
Rio 2016 bronze medallist Moran Samuel attended as World Rowing’s representative and commented: “I think it’s very good to learn not just from your experiences and your federation’s experiences but from others as well, especially from an athlete point of view, not just from the manager because we are all coming from the field of play and want to help the sport. I think the combination with the IPC and the athletes who sit on the different commissions and the different mix of different federations was the right passage to build conclusions and insights on everything.”
The full rundown of the Top 50 Moments will continue until 31 December.