Exclusive: Guides to be awarded Paralympic medals at London 2012
Saturday, 12 February 2011
February 12 - The International Paralympic Committee (IPC) have ruled that guides for the visually impaired athletes that secure podium spots at the London 2012 Paralympic medals will be awarded official Paralympic medals for their efforts.
Previously, only visually impaired athletes had been awarded medals at major championships for their achievements.
This was the case at the recent IPC World Athletics Championships in Christchurch last month but the decision from the IPC means that guides will now receive tangible recognition for their efforts.
Canadian Paralympic star Jason Dunkerley, a visually impaired middle distance runner and three-time Paralympic medallist, has given his full backing to the move and states it has been a long time in coming.
"We’ve made a lot of noise about the issue in the last few years,” said the 33-year-old who won the men’s 800 metres T11 race at the IPC World Athletics Championships alongside guide and fellow Canadian Greg Dailey.
"It’s nice to be heard and that they get it."
Dunkerley and his guide have won medals at three consecutive Paralympics, silvers in the 1500m at Sydney in 2000 and Athens in 2004 and bronze in Beijing in 2008 but on each occasion only he was awarded a medal (pictured).
"It’s not easy finding a guide," Dunkerley said.
"It’s a relationship that must develop.
"The guides run and receive next to nothing in recognition.
"Canada has helped to promote their case for recognition.
"This will be another great incentive for me and Greg at the London 2012 Paralympics.
"We continue to evolve as a team."
Dunkerley, one of Canada’s most recognisable Paralympians, added he was delighted to claim gold in New Zealand and that the victory put him in great stead for victory in 2012.
"I was really, really happy to become world champion in Christchurch," he said.
"Greg and I have run together a long time and we had our ups and downs, wins and disappointing losses.
"Going into the final, we decided it was best not to lead, to sit off the pace and move up in the final straight.
"It worked out better."