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Paralympic legend inspires all

Posted on 25/10/2011

Sir Philip is joined by the Principal and two of our alumni paralympic champions, Sophie Christiansen MBE and Helene Raynsford

Five-time Paralympian Sir Philip Craven MBE inspired an audience at Royal Holloway, University of London when he spoke about leadership and the Paralympic Movement on Monday night.

He explained how leadership is about defining a vision, putting it into action and then regularly assessing it. He also said it was about “being agile, about keeping things relatively balanced and being ready to act.”

Sir Philip talked about the origins of the Paralympic Movement which can be traced to Stoke Mandeville, UK in the 1940s where the then ‘International Stoke Mandeville Games’ were held coinciding with the 1948 London Olympics and its particular vision.

He said: “The vision of the IPC as it stands today is to enable paralympic athletes to achieve sporting excellence and inspire and excite the world.”

He explained how it was about empowering the athletes to be able to do it for themselves and enabling it to happen.

Sir Philip, who represented Great Britain in Wheelchair Basketball from 1969 to 1993 and Swimming in 1972, became the President of the International Paralympic Committee (IPC) in 2001.  He believes one of the main reasons he was elected was his ability to speak French and placed huge emphasis on the opportunities available to those who can speak more than one language.

He highlighted that it is not all about winning a Paralympic Gold medal but it’s about each individual deciding what their interpretation of excellence is. He said the key was about having fun and that everyone should have fun – even in business: “Athletes, spectators, volunteers, organisers, sponsors. Everybody should have fun. Even though fun is pretty serious when you come to compete for a Paralympic medal.”

He described the Games as an “incredible experience”, highlighting the way you move around the world and meet different cultures.

Looking ahead towards 2012 he said: “London is an incredible, international city and for a northerner to talk positively about London, it takes a lot. But I do talk positively about London and I think they are going to be fabulous Games.”

Sir Philip concluded by saying how in the last 10 years the IPC had moved from being a disability sports organisation to being purely an international sporting organisation that offers true sport for all.

The lecture was organised by the IPC Academy, the education division of the International Paralympic Committee and partner of the World Academy of Sport, in collaboration with Royal Holloway and is just one of a series of events to celebrate the College’s role in the 2012 Games as an official Olympic Village.


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