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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.[1] 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.[2]


Founding and establishmentEdit

The Games were the initiative of George Bedbrook, Director of the Spinal Unit of Royal Perth Hospital.[3] In Australia, paraplegic sports activities were first held in 1954 with the First Royal Perth Hospital Games in 1954 at the Shenton Park Annex.[4] 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.[5]

Games SummaryEdit

Games Year Host Dates Nations Competitors
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.[6] The Games were opened by the Governor of Western Australia, Sir Charles Gairdner on 10 November 1962.[6] 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.[6] A film of the Games was made.[7]

Medal Table

Country Gold Silver Bronze
Australia 38 21 23
England 30 41 19
Rhodesia 15 3 5
Scotland 2 10 4
New Zealand 2 0 1
Wales 1 0 3
India 1 0 2
Singapore 0 0 0
Northern Ireland 0 0 0

2nd Kingston, JamaicaEdit

There were 133 athletes from 10 countries.[8][9] The countries included England, Wales, Northern Ireland, Scotland, Australia, New Zealand, and Jamaica.[9][10] England had the largest delegation at the Games.[10] Sports on the program included swimming, snooker, wheelchair fencing, shot put,discus, club throw, wheelchair basketball and table tennis.[9][11]


The Australian team included 8 men and 3 women.[9] 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.[9]

The only newcomer to the Australian team was John Martin. He competed in four sports, para-athletics, para-swimming, wheelchair basketball and table tennis.[9] Martin won silver in the men's 50 yard freestyle Class C event.[11]

Lorraine Dodd was Australia's only female competitor from Western Australia on the team. Going to the Games to compete in swimming, Dodd did not feel she had gotten in enough training.[12]

Daphne Ceeney was another member of the Australian delegation, winning gold in wheelchair fencing.[10][11] Ceeney set a world record in the women's 50 m freestyle Class D event in a Games record time of 45.6 seconds.[11]

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.[13]

Vic Renalson came away from the Games with 2 golds, 2 silver and 1 bronze. He competed in para-athletics in Kingston.[14] Following the Games, he started to get involved with athletics coaching.[14]

The team manager was Kevin Betts.[9]


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.[11]


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.[11]

New ZealandEdit

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.[9] Heremaia was New Zealand's sole representative at the 1962 Games; here he won medals in snooker and javelin.[15]


The Scottish team included Ruth Harvey, who claimed silver in women's wheelchair fencing.[10]


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.[10]

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.[11] 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.[11]

3rd Edinburgh, ScotlandEdit

There were 192 athletes from 14 countries.[16] The Games were opened by Prime Minister Edward Heath immediately after the Commonwealth Games.[16] The chairman of the Organising Committee was Lieutenant-Colonel John Fraser.[8] Sporting events were held at Meadowbank Sports Centre and the Royal Commonwealth Pool,[17] and the Games Village was based at RAF Turnhouse located at Edinburgh Airport.[8]

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).[18]

The Australian delegation included Gwen Milburn and Wayne Patchett.[19][20] The team was chosen based on their performances at the 1973 National Paraplegic and Quadraplegic Games in August.[21]

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.[22] One of the medallists was Australia's Gwen Milburn who won gold in the women's 60 m track athletics event.[19] Australia also picked up medals in the bowls event.[23]

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.[2] 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.[2] However, Sir George Bedbrook helped to establish a Pacific Rim competition called the Far East and South Pacific Games for the Disabled.[24]

In the Commonwealth Games, athletes with a disability were first included in exhibition events at the 1994 Victoria, Canada Games.[25] 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.[26]

See alsoEdit


  1. ^ DePauw, Karen P; Gavron, Susan J (2005). Disability sport. Human Kinetics. pp. 102–. ISBN 978-0-7360-4638-1. Retrieved 25 February 2012. 
  2. ^ a b c Bailey, Steve (2008). Athlete first : a history of the Paralympic movement. Chichester: John Wiley. p. 34. ISBN 978-0-470-05824-4. 
  3. ^ Bailey, Steve (2008). Athlete first : a history of the Paralympic movement. Chichester: John Wiley. p. 26. ISBN 978-0-470-05824-4. 
  4. ^ Commonwealth Paraplegic Games : official programme. Perth: Paraplegic Association of Western Australia. 1962. p. 4. 
  5. ^ Bedbrook, George (15 November 1959). "Paraplegic Empire Games : Letters to the Editor". Canadian Medical Association Journal. 81 (10): 855. PMC 1831411 . PMID 20326048. 
  6. ^ a b c Report of the first Commonwealth Paralympic Games. Perth: Paraplegic Association of Western Australia|. 1962. p. 4. 
  7. ^ "First Commonwealth Paralympic Games". National Library of Australia. 1962. Retrieved 25 February 2012. 
  8. ^ a b c "Premier to open games for invalids". Glasgow Herald. 11 April 1970. Retrieved 20 February 2012. 
  9. ^ a b c d e f g h "Paraplegic games under way". Canberra Times. 16 August 1966. p. 21. Retrieved 7 June 2017. 
  10. ^ a b c d e "WOMAN FENCER WINS". Canberra Times. 18 August 1966. p. 28. Retrieved 7 June 2017. 
  11. ^ a b c d e f g h "Australia scores twice". Canberra Times. 17 August 1966. p. 30. Retrieved 7 June 2017. 
  12. ^ "The camera catches the action". Canberra Times. 14 June 1966. p. 16. Retrieved 7 June 2017. 
  13. ^ "Paraplegic Olympian dead". Canberra Times. 13 January 1967. p. 16. Retrieved 7 June 2017. 
  14. ^ a b "Visitors enter in athletic carnival". Canberra Times. 1 October 1966. p. 27. Retrieved 7 June 2017. 
  15. ^ "Pompey Heremaia at the Perth Games, 1962". Te Ara: The Encyclopedia of New Zealand. Retrieved 7 June 2017. 
  16. ^ a b "Wheelchair athletes close Games on a proud note". Glasgow Herald. 3 August 1970. p. 16. Retrieved 6 November 2016. 
  17. ^ Sandeman, Sylvia (2010). "50th Anniversary of SIS" (PDF). Newsline – Spinal Injuries Scotland (Winter). Retrieved 20 February 2012. 
  18. ^ Dr N.R. Jefferson – Papers relating to the New Zealand Paraplegic & Physically Disabled Federation Inc.’, 1968–2002 , MS-1479. Hocken / Uare Taoka o Hākena, University of Otago Dunedin , New Zealand. 
  19. ^ a b "5 archery gold medals". Canberra Times. 27 July 1974. p. 37. Retrieved 7 June 2017. 
  20. ^ "3 World records". The Broadcaster. Fairfield, New South Wales. 13 August 1974. p. 16. Retrieved 7 June 2017. 
  21. ^ "ACT paraplegics win five medals". Canberra Times. 20 October 1973. p. 35. Retrieved 7 June 2017. 
  22. ^ Official Sports Programme – Fourth British Commonwealth Paraplegic Games. Dunedin. 1974. 
  23. ^ "Mayoral Notes". The Broadcaster. Fairfield, New South Wales. 29 January 1974. p. 2. Retrieved 7 June 2017. 
  24. ^ "Sir George Bedbrook – Paralympic Hall of Fame inductee". Paraplegic Benefit Fund. Retrieved 25 February 2012. 
  25. ^ Van Ooyen and Justin Anjema, Mark; Anjema, Justin (25 March 2004). "A Review and Interpretation of the Events of the 1994 Commonwealth Games" (PDF). Redeemer University College. Archived from the original (PDF) on 31 July 2013. Retrieved 25 February 2012. 
  26. ^ "Para-sports for elite athletes with a disability". Commonwealth Games Federation website. Retrieved 20 February 2012.