By Duncan Mackay

Chris Hallam, who has died of cancer at the age of 50, was an inspiration for a generation of Paralympic athletesAugust 18 - Britain's Chris Hallam, one of the pioneers of Paralympic sport, has died at the age of 50, it has been announced.

He won medals for swimming and wheelchair racing in the Paralympics at Seoul 1988, Barcelona 1992 and Atlanta 1996.

Hallam, who lived in Pontypool, Torfaen, was paralysed below the chest in a motorcycling accident at the age of 17.

Within a few years he won the 50 metres breaststroke at the World Disabled Games.

He won the London Marathon in 1985 and 1987, setting course records.

In 1986 he completed a 400-mile wheelchair ride around Wales to raise money for a centre for the disabled at Cardiff Metropolitan University.

Hallam retired from competitive sport in 1996 and took up coaching.

He was also awarded the Member of the British Empire (MBE) for his contribution to disability sport.

The athlete had been suffering from cancer for some time and died on Friday (August 16).

Chris Hallam crossing the line to win the London Marathon in 1987, his second victory in three yearsChris Hallam crossing the line to win the London Marathon in 1987, his second victory in three years

Britain's Prime Minister David Cameron was one of many people tweeting tributes to Hallam following the news.

He said: "Very sorry to hear of the death of Chris Hallam, a true pioneer of disabled sport and an inspiration to athletes everywhere."

Jim Munkley, a Disability Sport Wales Board member and former British team-mate with Hallam at the Seoul, Barcelona and Atlanta Games, said: "Chris will be remembered as a true legend of Paralympic and Welsh sport.

"Not only was he was true competitor in every sense of the word, but he was also a great character to be around and to have known.

"Disability sport in Wales owes much to Chris and I have no doubt that we would not be where we are today without the huge contribution that he made to the development of our sport."

Others to pay tribute included Baroness Tanni Grey-Thompson, winner of 11 Paralympic gold medals.

"Not only was he Welsh and living not far from where I was he really challenged perceptions of disability sport," she said.

"Chris... made the sport of road-racing seem really sexy, exciting and glamorous."

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