By Tom Degun
January 14 - David Constantine (pictured), the co-founder and executive officer of Motivation, a charity which sets up self-sustaining projects to improve the quality of life of people with mobility disabilities in developing countries, says he is surprised by the amount of interest there is in the sports wheelchairs his organisation has created.
After the International Paralympic Committee (IPC) approached Constantine and his team about the possibility of creating a low-cost sports wheelchair for developing countries who cannot afford expensive chairs, Motivation rose to the challenge.
Following consultation with the International Tennis Federation (ITF) and the International Wheelchair Basketball Federation (IWBF), Motivation created sports wheelchairs that allowed disability athletes from countries such as Kenya to compete with richer nations, like Britain, who can afford more expensive equipment.
However, so cost effective is the design of the wheelchair that it has drawn interest from a host of developed countries, including France, because while most elite sports wheelchair models can cost upwards of £3000, Motivation’s designs retail at around £150.
Constantine told insideworldparasport: "While the sports wheelchairs we have designed are not on the same level as the top elite wheelchairs, they are very good models made of top quality materials and National Paralympic Committee’s have realised that they can purchase a set of good sports wheelchairs for their whole team at the same price it costs for one elite wheelchair.
"Although we originally designed cost effective sports wheelchairs for developing countries to use, we have been surprised to receive so much interest from developing countries around the world that we didn't expect to hear from which has actually been fantastic.
"These wheelchairs are available to anyone that wants them and are very easy to maintain.
"I don't expect to see these wheelchairs at the London 2012 Paralympics as they are specifically designed to build up people's ability to play sports and not to complete at elite level but if some of the smaller nations get to the Games, there is a possibility that we could see them there."
Constantine, who was awarded an MBE in the Queen’s 2010 New Year’s Honours List for services to the disabled, was quick to thank the Audi Design Foundation who provided funding for the project but revealed that designing a low-cost sports wheelchair was not too difficult a task for Motivation.
He said: "We have already provided wheelchairs for 34 developing nations so we just used our expertise in that area.
"We obviously consulted regularly with the ITF and IWBF to ensure the chair fitted their needs but we are very pleased that the chair has been received so well, proved so popular and that we have been approached by so many countries."
Constantine says the next challenge is to create a version of the wheelchair for children and despite the considerable praise that is constantly heaped upon him, the Motivation co-founder remains modest.
Having broken his neck in a diving accident in 1982, Constantine has won numerous awards for his services to people with disabilities all over the world including the prestigious 1992 ‘Person of the Year’ Award from the Royal Association for Disability and now an MBE.
He said: "I'm obviously very proud to win such an award [MBE] but there over 100 guys at Motivation who deserve credit too, not just me..
"I didn’t fit every nut and bolt to the wheelchair on my own."
Constantine also said it is "great news" that the London 2012 Paralympic Games will be shown on Chanel 4 and remain on free-to-air television as oppose to move pay-per view but claimed that there are things other than sport available for people with a disability.
"We must remember that there are activities – besides sport – that people with a disability can do to meet people, make friends and get active.
"But having said that, there is no doubt that sport is a great activity for anyone with a disability and hopefully our sports wheelchairs will get even more people involved in it."
Contact the writer of this story at [email protected].