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Paralympic Dreams Are Being Crushed Due to Cut in Funding
Mencap is launching a campaign to highlight the thousands of pounds worth of funding that has been cut as a result of a ban preventing athletes from competing in the Paralympics.
"I will never forget the day Chris found out that the ban would not be lifted for Beijing" says David, father to Chris, one of the youngest athletes to compete in the 2000 Sydney Paralympic Games. "He never really cries, but that day there were tears streaming down his face. He was devastated."
The Department of Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS) must make funding available immediately in order for athletes to be fully trained to compete in London 2012.
A crucial International Paralympic Committee (IPC) meeting in October, at which the ban will be discussed, could determine the future of international learning disability sport.
Athletes with a learning disability have been unable to compete in the Paralympic Games since the Sydney Games in 2000, when organisers found that members of the Spanish Basketball team falsely claimed to have a learning disability. Despite the ongoing anger and dismay of the athletes, the ban remains until sporting bodies are able to reach an agreement on a suitable registering system.
Dame Jo Williams, Mencap's chief executive, said: "Without immediate funding, athletes with a learning disability simply will not be ready to compete in London 2012. These athletes are competing for Britain, and they should be supported to do so. Some of the athletes and most of their parents have to pay thousands of pounds of their own money and this just isn't acceptable."
"We are actively seeking the removal of the ban on athletes with a learning disability from the Paralympics and we are optimistic the ban will be lifted for London 2012. However, we strongly urge sporting bodies to find a solution, because without immediate funding these talented athletes will not be physically ready to compete in London 2012. This would be a terrible disgrace."
REHACARE.de; Source: Mencap
- More on Mencap at: mencap.org.uk