Charlie Swinbourne: The Paralympic Games are a missed opportunity for Deaf athletes

Posted on September 6, 2012


[A Deaflympian uses  a lighting system to start her race. Photo copyright: International Committee of Sports for the Deaf]

We’ve seen Deaf performers and artists taking centre stage at both the Olympic and Paralympic opening ceremonies. But we’ve seen precious few in competition. So I wrote this piece for the Guardian online about Deaf athletes missing out on the Games. Do read it and leave your own thoughts if you can.

On Tuesday I watched Evgenii Shvetcov from Russia win the Men’s 400M T36, narrowly beating the man I was cheering on – Team GB’s Paul Blake – into second place. But any disappointment I felt suddenly disappeared when, seconds after crossing the finish line, Shvetcov looked into the TV camera and used sign language to communicate a message to people watching back home.

This may seem disloyal to these shores, but if I’d known Shvetcov was deaf, I’d have been cheering him on from the start. There are deaf athletes who have competed in the Olympics and Paralympics at London 2012, but they’re few and far between. Another separate disability is required for them to compete in the Paralympics because, remarkably, there is no category for deaf athletes.

Read the full article here: http://www.guardian.co.uk/commentisfree/2012/sep/06/paralympic-games-deaf-athletes

The Limping Chicken is supported by Deaf media company Remark!, provider of sign language services Deaf Umbrella, training and consultancy Deafworks, the National Deaf Children’s Society’s Look, Smile Chat campaign, and the National Theatre’s captioned plays.

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