Commonwealth Paraplegic Games
The Commonwealth Paraplegic Games were an international, multi-sport event involving athletes with a disability from the Commonwealth countries. The event was first held in 1962 and disestablished in 1974. The event was sometimes referred to as the Paraplegic Empire Games and British Commonwealth Paraplegic Games. The Games were held in the country hosting the Commonwealth Games for abled bodied athletes. Athletes were generally those with spinal injuries or polio. The Games were an important milestone in the Paralympic sports movement as they began the decline of the Stoke Mandeville Games' dominating influence.
Founding and establishmentEdit
The Games were the initiative of George Bedbrook, Director of the Spinal Unit of Royal Perth Hospital. In Australia, paraplegic sports activities were first held in 1954 with the First Royal Perth Hospital Games in 1954 at the Shenton Park Annex. In 1956, Bedbrook was encouraged during a visit by Ludwig Guttmann, the founder of the Stoke Mandeville Games, to help organise disabled sport in Australia. In 1959, the Paraplegic Association of Western Australia, acting through Royal Perth Hospital, began to publicise the Paraplegic Empire Games just prior to the British Empire Games to be held in Perth in 1962.
|I||1962||Perth, Australia||10–17 November||9||93|
|II||1966||Kingston, Jamaica||14–20 August||10||133|
|III||1970||Edinburgh, Scotland||26 July – 1 August||14||192|
|IV||1974||Dunedin, New Zealand||13–19 January||14||232 *|
- missing Canadian competitor numbers
1st Perth, Western AustraliaEdit
An Organising Committee was established with Hugh Leslie, Executive Chairman, George Bedbrook, General Secretary and Mrs M.R. Fathers, Secretary. The Games were opened by the Governor of Western Australia, Sir Charles Gairdner on 10 November 1962. Two Perth facilities were used: the Royal Agricultural Showgrounds in Claremont for accommodation and most sporting events and the City of Perth Aquatic Centre, Beatty Park for swimming. Medals were awarded in the following sports: archery, dartchery, athletics, swimming, weightlifting, fencing, snooker, table tennis and basketball. Nine countries participated -England, India, New Zealand, Northern Ireland, Rhodesia, Scotland, Singapore, Wales and Australia, and there were 93 athletes. A film of the Games was made.
2nd Kingston, JamaicaEdit
There were 133 athletes from 10 countries. The countries included England, Wales, Northern Ireland, Scotland, Australia, New Zealand, and Jamaica. England had the largest delegation at the Games. Sports on the program included swimming, snooker, wheelchair fencing, shot put,discus, club throw, wheelchair basketball and table tennis.
The Australian team included 8 men and 3 women. Ten members of the team had competed at the 1962 Games and come away with gold medals, but the total delegation was smaller than in 1962 owing to a lack of funds.
The only newcomer to the Australian team was John Martin. He competed in four sports, para-athletics, para-swimming, wheelchair basketball and table tennis. Martin won silver in the men's 50 yard freestyle Class C event.
Daphne Ceeney was another member of the Australian delegation, winning gold in wheelchair fencing. Ceeney set a world record in the women's 50 m freestyle Class D event in a Games record time of 45.6 seconds.
The Australian delegation included Mikko Tamminen, who won 5 medals at the Games. His gold medals were in shotput and middleweight weightlifting. His silvers were in the javelin and club throw. His sole bronze medal came in the discus. The Finnish born competitor immigrated to Australia in 1951 and was injured in an accident in 1957. He died a year after the 1966 Games took place.
The English team included swimmer Sue Masham. She won silver in the women's 25 m breaststroke class A event. It also included swimmer Margaret Gibbs, who finished second in the women's 50 m freestyle Class D event.
The delegation from Jamaica included Octavius Morgan, who set a world record in the men's 50 yard freestyle Class C event in a time of 53.7 seconds.
New Zealand also participated in these Games. Their team manager was Max Steward. They had a better funding situation than their Australian competitors, but some team members withdrew early because of medical issues. The team included 1962 Games gold medallist Auckland's Pompey Heremaia. Heremaia competed in the precision javelin, snooker, shot put, club throw and wheelchair fencing. Heremaia was New Zealand's sole representative at the 1962 Games; here he won medals in snooker and javelin.
The Scottish team included Ruth Harvey, who claimed silver in women's wheelchair fencing.
Midway through the Games, England led the medals table with 11 gol, 14 silver and 15 bronze medals. They were followed by Australia with 6 gold and 2 silver. Third was Jamaica with 5 gold and 2 silver. Scotland was fourth with 1 gold, 1 silver and 3 bronze medals. Wales was fifth with 1 silver medal and 1 bronze. Northern Ireland was last with 1 silver.
England and Jamaica were leaders for medals in the pool. They had 3 gold medals each. Australia followed closely behind with 2. Scotland was the only other country with gold in the pool with one. World and other records fell in the pool. One was set by Lorraine Dodd in the women's 25 m breaststroke class A event, where shoe posted a world record time of 32.0 seconds.
3rd Edinburgh, ScotlandEdit
There were 192 athletes from 14 countries. The Games were opened by Prime Minister Edward Heath immediately after the Commonwealth Games. The chairman of the Organising Committee was Lieutenant-Colonel John Fraser. Sporting events were held at Meadowbank Sports Centre and the Royal Commonwealth Pool, and the Games Village was based at RAF Turnhouse located at Edinburgh Airport.
4th Dunedin, New ZealandEdit
The competing countries and competitors were: New Zealand (32 ), Scotland ( 22 – 17 male, 5 female), Jamaica ( 15 – 9 male, 6 female), Malaysia (3 male), Australia (53), Mauritius (1 observer only), Kenya (12 – 11 male, 1 female), England (53 – 37 male, 16 female), Northern Ireland (7), Wales (12), Hong Kong (17 – 14 male, 3 female), Fiji (3 male), Singapore (2), India (1), Canada? (not known).
Medals were awarded in the following sports: archery, dartchery, bowl and field events (javelin throw, precision javelin, shot putt, discus), track events (60m, 100m, 200m), pentathlon, swimming, weightlifting, fencing, snooker, table tennis and basketball. One of the medallists was Australia's Gwen Milburn who won gold in the women's 60 m track athletics event. Australia also picked up medals in the bowls event.
Venues used were Caledonian Ground, Logan Park, University of Otago, Physical Education Gymnasium, RSA Hall, Moana Pool and St Kilda Smallbore Rifle Range. The Games were opened by Sir Denis Blundell, Governor General of New Zealand.
Disestablishment and heritageEdit
The Dunedin Games were the final Commonwealth Paraplegic Games mainly due to travel logistics and costs. The Commonwealth Paraplegic Games Committee recommended to the International Stoke Mandeville Games Committee that the 'World Zone Games' be established. These Games did not come into fruition. However, Sir George Bedbrook helped to establish a Pacific Rim competition called the Far East and South Pacific Games for the Disabled.
In the Commonwealth Games, athletes with a disability were first included in exhibition events at the 1994 Victoria, Canada Games. At the 2002 Manchester Games they were included as full members of their national teams, making them the first fully inclusive international multi-sport games. This meant that results were included in the medal count.
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