The IDG Olympic and Paralympic Blog 2016

Rio 2016: Can Paralympics GB match Team GB’s Olympic success?

IDG associate John Steele, is also Chairman of The English Institute of Sport. In this role, he is in Rio this summer helping Great Britain’s bid to improve the medal haul from London 2012 in both the Olympics and the Paralympics. Team GB achieved this in the Olympics; can Paralympics GB match that success?

London 2012 set a new benchmark for Paralympic Sport. It caught the imagination of the world and changed a generations understanding of diversity and disabled sport. Indeed the word ‘disability’ seems out of place in this environment of super able athletes, who have overcome incredible life challenges before they have even reached their sporting event.

We describe the passionate, sometimes obsessional drive to become the expert in their field that many top athletes possess as the “rage to mastery”. This single minded approach is a key part of the necessary commitment to excellence and there is often no better example than the Para athlete that has shown such resilience in achieving their goals.

Now with the glow of Rio Olympic success still lighting up our nation, we have plunged head first into an equally challenging proposal. The run up to the Rio Paralympic Games has seen the drama of the IPC taking a courageous stand, after the IOC chose not to, against the doping exploits of Russia and exclude them from the Games. Various concerns over the Games budget and logistics occupied many column inches in the final run up to the opening, not to mention the ongoing classification conundrum which seems to be an ever present in Para sport. But now we are immersed in the competition and all those concerns are forgotten as we witness some incredible sport.

Paralympic GB’s Jody Cundy winning gold at Rio 2016

For Paralympics GB to better the London 2012 performance will require 121 medals. A big call but one that I firmly believe can be achieved. Already we have seen a lot of firsts, the latest of which was the first ever Para-Triathlon gold medal from Andy Lewis.

I feel very privileged to be making my second trip to Rio this summer and very proud of the world class support that the Institutes practitioners are giving to our athletes. Can GB do the double this summer and achieve what so many said was not possible: TeamGB and ParalympicsGB both bettering the London medal count. We will know in just one weeks time.

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