Sir Chris Dragged Into Honours Row

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01 Chris Hoy with medals wearing black

By Alexander Lawrie

SCOTTISH Olympic hero Chris Hoy has been dragged into a row over the New Year Honours list.

Members of Britain’s Paralympic team are “disappointed” that almost half of the squad has been overlooked in this year’s honours.

At first glance the list seems to honour many of the paralympic stars, but a closer look at the figures reveal that while every Olympic gold medallist was featured in the New Year Honours list only 18 of the 35 British Paralympic champions secured a gong of some sort.

Individual comparisons have been made between Hoy, who received a knighthood for winning three Olympic cycling golds in Beijing, and his Paralympic counterpart Darren Kenny who won four gold medals but received the lesser award of an OBE.

Multi medal-winning Paralympian Dame Tanni Grey-Thomson appeared to criticise the “lack of parity”, and suggested the Government should give equal recognition to the achievements of both non-disabled and disabled athletes when London hosts the 2012 Games.

She said: “The reality – and it is surely not right – at the moment is that you have to multi-medal at the Paralympic Games to get a New Years Honours list award.

“By the time 2012 comes around, we need to get this in order.

“There is a lack of parity, and we are playing catch-up.

“When I got my MBE after 1992 (after three gold and one silver medal at the Paralympic Games in Barcelona) there were hardly any Paralympians who ever received honours.”

Team GB’s Paralympics squad finished second in the medals table with 42 golds – beaten only by host nation China.

In comparison, Britain’s able-bodied Olympians only came fourth with 19 gold medals.

Rebecca Adlington received an OBE for her two Olympic golds in the pool, but Paralympian swimmer Eleanor Simmonds was only given an MBE for her two Olympic golds.

Tim Reddish, the Paralympics GB Chairman, said: “We are delighted to see these Paralympic athletes recognised in the honours list for their contribution to British sport and their magnificent achievements.

“We are however very disappointed that not all the Beijing 2008 Paralympic gold medallists could be recognised, but we look forward to more athletes being honoured in the future.”

And Hoy, who won the coveted BBC Sports Personality of the Year Award last month to add to his four Olympic gold medals, admitted he was “shocked” to receive his knighthood, but did not want to comment on the Paralympians situation.

And after her views were published Dame Tanni seemed to change her mind and denied having concerns about disabled athletes’ standings in the honours list.

She told the BBC: “This is how the honours system works. I’ve been hugely honoured in that I’ve received three honours through the system. I’m hugely supportive of the honours system as I’m part of the decision-making process, albeit at a fairly low level.

“I think there’s an assumption by the public that they look at medals and think, this person has been awarded this medal therefore this is the award they should get. I don’t think it works like that.

“I don’t think there’s any right or wrong when it comes to the honours system. It all depends on where you are in your career, the magnitude of what’s been achieved, whether you’ll be around in another four years.”

1 COMMENT

  1. I totally agree with the above report. It’s obvious that the paralympians achievements are viewed as less than the olympians. The Culture of Media and Sport (or whoeveter gives out the honours) should admit that they have made a mistake and rectify this now. They should prove that if discrimination in this country exists, they dont condone it. Who decided that 4 gold medals at the Paralympics are worth less than 3 at the Olympics? Have the paralympians put in less effort and commitment into competing and winning against all the other nations? They did come second on the medal table after all.
    They should either treat people equaly or stop giving out honours altogether!

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