Commonwealth Paraplegic Games
The Commonwealth Paraplegic Games were an international, multi-sport event involving athletes with a disability from the Commonwealth countries. The event was first held in 1962 and disestablished in 1974. The event was sometimes referred to as the Paraplegic Empire Games and British Commonwealth Paraplegic Games. The Games were held in the country hosting the Commonwealth Games for abled bodied athletes. Athletes were generally those with spinal injuries or polio. The Games were an important milestone in the Paralympic sports movement as they began the decline of the Stoke Mandeville Games' dominating influence.
Founding and establishment
The Games were the initiative of George Bedbrook, Director of the Spinal Unit of Royal Perth Hospital. In Australia, paraplegic sports activities were first held in 1954 with the First Royal Perth Hospital Games in 1954 at the Shenton Park Annex. In 1956, Bedbrook was encouraged during a visit by Ludwig Guttmann, the founder of the Stoke Mandeville Games, to help organise disabled sport in Australia. In 1959, the Paraplegic Association of Western Australia, acting through Royal Perth Hospital, began to publicise the Paraplegic Empire Games just prior to the British Empire Games to be held in Perth in 1962.
|I||1962||Perth, Australia||10 – 17 November||9||93|
|III||1970||Edinburgh, Scotland||26 July – 1 August||14||150|
|IV||1974||Dunedin, New Zealand||13 – 19 January||14||232 *|
- missing Canadian competitor numbers
1st Perth, Western Australia
An Organising Committee was established with Hugh Leslie, Executive Chairman, George Bedbrook, General Secretary and Mrs M.R. Fathers, Secretary. The Games were opened by the Governor of Western Australia, Sir Charles Gairdner on 10 November 1962. Two Perth facilities were used: the Royal Agricultural Showgrounds in Claremont for accommodation and most sporting events and the City of Perth Aquatic Centre, Beatty Park for swimming. Medals were awarded in the following sports: archery, dartchery, athletics, swimming, weightlifting, fencing, snooker, table tennis and basketball. Nine countries participated -England, India, New Zealand, Northern Ireland, Rhodesia, Scotland, Singapore, Wales and Australia, and there were 93 athletes. A film of the Games was made.
2nd Kingston, Jamaica
There were 133 athletes from 10 countries.
3rd Edinburgh, Scotland
There were approximately 150 athletes from 14 countries. The Games were opened by Prime Minister Harold Wilson immediately after the Commonwealth Games. The chairman of the Organising Committee was Lieutenant-Colonel John Fraser. Sporting events were held at Meadowbank Sports Centre and the Royal Commonwealth Pool, and the Games Village was based at RAF Turnhouse located at Edinburgh Airport.
4th Dunedin, New Zealand
The competing countries and competitors were: New Zealand (32 ), Scotland ( 22 – 17 male, 5 female), Jamaica ( 15 – 9 male, 6 female), Malaysia (3 male), Australia (53), Mauritius (1 observer only), Kenya (12 – 11 male, 1 female), England (53 – 37 male, 16 female), Northern Ireland (7), Wales (12), Hong Kong (17 – 14 male, 3 female), Fiji (3 male), Singapore (2), India (1), Canada? (not known). Medals were awarded in the following sports: archery, dartchery, bowl and field events (javelin throw, precision javelin, shot putt, discus), track events (60m, 100m, 200m), pentathlon, swimming, weightlifting, fencing, snooker, table tennis and basketball. Venues used were Caledonian Ground, Logan Park, University of Otago, Physical Education Gymnasium, R.S.A. Hall, Moana Pool and St Kilda Smallbore Rifle Range. The Games were opened by Sir Denis Blundell, Governor General of New Zealand.
Disestablishment and heritage
The Dunedin Games were the final Commonwealth Paraplegic Games mainly due to travel logistics and costs. The Commonwealth Paraplegic Games Committee recommended to the International Stoke Mandeville Games Committee that the 'World Zone Games' be established. These Games did not come into fruition. However, Sir George Bedbrook helped to establish a Pacific Rim competition called the Far East and South Pacific Games for the Disabled.
In the Commonwealth Games, athletes with a disability were first included in exhibition events at the 1994 Victoria, Canada Games. At the 2002 Manchester Games they were included as full members of their national teams, making them the first fully inclusive international multi-sport games. This meant that results were included in the medal count.
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