Fri | Apr 26, 2019

Special athletes and sport

Published:Monday | May 11, 2015 | 11:07 PMJennifer Ellison-Brown
Martine Wright (right) of Britain fails to return the ball from Ilona Yudina (left) of Ukraine during their women' sitting volleyball match at the 2012 Paralympic Games in London.
Jamaica's Alphanso Cunningham in the discus event at the Beijing Paralympic Games in 2008.
Disabled athletes competing with prosthetic legs at the 2012 Paralympic Games at the Olympic Stadium, London.

In the past, people with disabilities had little opportunity to take part in sport. Nearly all sports facilities were built for the able bodied. People who are disabled or physically challenge sought to develop alternative sports as well as to adapt dominant sports to fit their needs and physical characteristics. They have much to offer the world of sports.

Other than the top disabled sports people, there are others who have benefited and can benefit from sport. Participation in sports allows them to stay healthy and to socialise with other people with disabilities and able-bodied persons.

However, these special populations do face serious obstacles to participation in sports, which may restrict their activities and prejudice from other persons or organisation can also be a barrier to their participation.


Inclusion and accessibility


Concern and support has been generated by various societal groups across the globe that focuses on the inclusion of persons with different disability. Their main aim is to ensure quality opportunity for people with disability to take part in sports and recreation at the level of their choice. The objectives are as followed:

• To raise the profile of people with disabilities in sports.

• To make sure plans for sport includes the needs of people with disabilities..

• To provide opportunities for people with disabilities to take part in sport.

• To make sure sports meet the needs of people with disabilities.

• To improve access to sports for people with disabilities.

• To encourage involvement for people with disabilities in international sports.

• To use all resources and seek extra finance.

Unfortunately, access for people with disability varies across the globe and it is not always the same. Therefore some persons with disability may be faced with the following challenges:

• Transportation to sports events and sport facilities.

• Facilities that do not cater to the need of competitors and spectators with disabilities (lifts, ramps, special change rooms and restrooms).

• Trained personnel to work with sports people with disabilities.

• Provision at sports centres and clubs for persons with disabilities.

• Governing bodies not holding events for persons with disabilities within their able bodied championships.

• Too little opportunities for persons with disabilities to develop their sporting skills.

• People with disabilities are not able to afford the cost of taking part in sport.

• Awareness of organisation catering to the sporting needs of people with disabilities.

• The integration of students with disabilities into PE lessons.

Although there is still a major problem of accessibility for persons with disabilities, especially within the normal educational institutions, many sports have adapted their rules to suit the needs of people with disabilities.

New sports have also been invented; football with bells in them for the partially sighted, specific sports such as sitting volleyball, wheelchair basketball, wheelchair races, etc.

Disabled persons are now competing alongside able bodied persons with the use of prosthetic legs in athletics and football.

The Special Olympics and Paralympics Games give people of different disabilities a chance to compete at the international level. These events have been broadcast by the media across the globe and have helped to raise awareness of sports for disabled persons. Disabled athletes have shown that they can take part in a wide range of sports and do well just like anyone else.

Next week's lesson: Violence in Sports

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