Deaf Sports Personality of the Year organisers accuse government of overlooking Deaf athletes’ achievements

Posted on June 4, 2014

Elite deaf athletes do not get the recognition that they deserve according to Richard Weinbaum and Jackie Harrison organisers of the Deaf Sports Personality of the Year awards.

Comparing the treatment of Paralympic athletes to Deaflympic athletes on their return from their respective tournaments, the pair believe that Deaf athletes were overlooked because they were not invited to Downing Street to meet the Prime Minister like their Paralympian counterparts were.

“We believe that Deaf Athletes do not have a formal recognition of the achievements by deaf sports individuals, teams, organisations from the public or the Government in the UK” they said.

“For example, Team GB returned back from Sofia for the Deaflympics and they won 5 medals but the UK Government overlooked them and didn’t invite them to Downing Street and meet the PM to praise their achievements.”

“That is the reason why we set up Deaf Sport Personality of the Year. It’s on the right tracks to break the barriers and give our Deaf Athletes some recognition and the praise that they deserve.”

The difference in funding for Paralympic and Deaflympic athletes is stark. £354 million has been allocated to support Paralympians ahead of Rio 2016 but deaf athletes had to scrape together much of their own funding for the Deaflympics in Sofia in 2013 after the total funding they received amounted to £125,000. This difference in funding and profile means that deaf children are missing out when it comes to sport they say.

“The awards we run are to encourage young deaf people to get involved with sports more and to show them that they can achieve at the highest level within the Deaflympics, European and World Deaf Championships or Olympics and Paralympics” they said.

“The media work we did in the last four years is a perfect example to show young deaf people that they can play any sport and that deafness shouldn’t stop them from playing or competing.

“This country is crying out for young deaf talent to improve the standard of deaf sports in the UK.

“We want to see a breakthrough with the mainstream corporate sponsorships and donate some funding towards deaf sports on their pathways to success with better resources, training and coaching skills and techniques, dietary and fitness programmes.”

Nominations for Deaf Sports Personality of the Year 2014 are open in eight different categories. The award ceremony takes place at the Ricoh Arena in Coventry every two years and 2012 saw England Deaf Cricketer Umesh Valige take the top award.

Find out more about Deaf Sports Personality of the Year here.

By Andy Palmer, Deputy Editor. 

Andy is Chairman of the Peterborough and District Deaf Children’s Society and teachessign language in primary schools. Contact him on twitter @LC_AndyP

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