What’s on today
Thursday 24 July 10:30–13:30 (H, M) Para-Sport 100m Freestyle S9.
19:00–21:45 (F, M) Para-Sport 100m Freestyle S9. 400m Freestyle.
GLASGOW — The 2014 Commonwealth Games in Glasgow will offer more medals and events for para-sport athletes than at any previous edition of the Games.
There will be a total of 22 medal events for para-athletes this summer in five sports. The five para-sports included in the Glasgow program are athletics, swimming, powerlifting, lawn bowls and, for the first time, track cycling.
Given the success of the Paralympics in London in 2012, during which 2.7 million tickets were sold and peak television audiences surpassed initial expectations with 6.7 million viewers, Glasgow 2014 has been eager to continue the rise of the fledgling sports.
“It is good to see that there is more para-sport at the Commonwealth Games in 2014 than ever before and especially that the events have equal weighting on the program,” Tim Hollingsworth, chief executive of the British Paralympic Association, said in an interview.
“Our experience of London 2012 showed that there is tremendous public appetite for elite disability sport,” he added, “and the Commonwealth Games is a great platform to showcase the incredible talents of para-athletes to a worldwide audience.”
Hollingsworth was quick to point out, however, that the number of medals available throughout the tournament for para-sport athletes was still relatively low. He said he hoped that would be addressed at the 2018 Games, in Australia.
Expansion of the para-sport portion of the Games in Glasgow was accomplished without any additional funding and was met with almost unanimous approval.
Xavier Gonzalez, chief executive officer of the International Paralympic Committee, or I.P.C., was enthusiastic when he visited the sites in April.
“I was very impressed with what I saw in Glasgow,” he said in a statement released by the I.P.C. “Not only do the venues look really good, theaters for sport, but the city is also moving forward in improvements in accessibility and transport.”
“Glasgow is a sport-mad city, and all Scots are passionate about their elite sport,” Gonzalez added. “I am sure, just like London, that people from all over the Commonwealth will turn out in force to support their athletes taking part in the five para-sports here.”
The para-sport program was only fully integrated into the Commonwealth Games in 2002, when the competition was held in Manchester, England. Before that, the Special Olympics, which was founded in 1960, provided the only international stage on which disabled athletes could compete.
Now, 12 years and three international tournaments since those 2002 Games, the para-sport community finally feels at home within the 71 countries that participate in the Commonwealth competition.
Over the 11 days of events across Scotland’s largest city, the para-athletes will compete like all the other athletes and will vie for more medals than ever before.
David Carry, a double Commonwealth Games medalist in 2006 and ambassador to this summer’s Games, was quick to point out just how vital the additional events are to Glasgow’s legacy.
“I think the increased para-program is an enormously important part of what the Commonwealth Games is,” he said. “We saw from London 2012 that the Paralympics was a complete game-changer in how people saw the Paralympic sports. The fact that not only is it the absolute pinnacle of performance out there — these are athletes, para-athletes, who are equally as professional as the able-bodied athletes — but they are absolutely dedicated, with a similar support network, same level of funding, and they just overcome barriers that the rest of us just do not have. And I think that realization has given inspiration to so many people and it’s important that it’s capitalized on.”
And there’s certainly plenty to get excited about within Team Scotland.
Timmy Clegg, already a world and European champion at 24, will be hoping for gold in the 100-meter event in athletics. The 2012 Paralympic gold-medal cyclist Neil Fachie will be hoping for similar success in the new Sir Chris Hoy Velodrome in Glasgow.
“We’re going to see all sorts of events and medals,” Carry said. “A huge highlight for me is going to be seeing Neil in the tandem at the velodrome going for gold, and I know that it was one of the first events to sell out. It’s going to be incredible to see the speed and bravery of these people.”
“The dedication, knowledge and understanding that goes into it is absolutely enormous,” he added. “There is that level of respect now and I think what certain impact it’s had in terms of the public is that inspiration that it’s able to generate.”
Meanwhile, many of the European para-athletes set to compete will be using Glasgow 2014 as a final warm-up for the International Paralympic Committee’s athletics European Championships in Swansea, Wales, which start on Aug. 18.