Sir Philip Craven, President of the International Paralympic Committee (IPC), has reflected back on some of his organisation’s biggest achievements.
The body, set-up to be “the only world multi-disability organisation with the right to organise the Paralympic and multi-disability world Games, as well as World Championships”, was formed at a meeting in Düsseldorf on September 22, 1989, under Canadian founding President Robert Steadward.
It has since grown rapidly and today employs nearly 70 full-time staff and boasts more than 200 members made up of National Paralympic Committees, International Federations, International Organisations of Sport for the Disabled and Regional Organisations.
It also serves as the International Federation for nine sports, for which it supervises and coordinates the World Championships and other competitions.
“In the last 25 years the IPC has been transformed from a disability organisation into one of world’s most respected international sporting bodies,” said Sir Philip, who became President in 2001 and is serving his fourth and final term in the position.
“We have developed an enviable track record for staging spectacular sporting events and increasing participation together with our members around the world.
“We should be really proud of our achievements.
“This success is not just down to those who work or have worked at the IPC, it is down to everyone within the Paralympic Movement.”
The IPC credits its relationship with the International Olympic Committee as one of the major factors behind its growth.
The two organisations signed a Cooperation Agreement in October 2000, and in 2012 signed a Partnership Agreement that ensures the Paralympic Games are held in the same city as the Olympic Games through to 2020.
“The first IPC-IOC Agreement signed in 2000 by Presidents Steadward and [then IOC President Juan Antonio] Samaranch provided rock solid foundations on which the Paralympic Movement could build,” Sir Philip, a five-time Paralympian who represented Great Britain in wheelchair basketball, said.
“The Paralympics are now firmly established as part of a 60-day festival of sport alongside the Olympics.
“They have grown into the world’s third biggest sporting event behind the Olympics and FIFA World Cup which is a stunning achievement.”
To mark its 25th anniversary, the IPC has been counting down the top 25 moments from the last quarter of a century on the special website www.ipc25.com, with the number one moment due to be revealed tomorrow.
Sir Philip highlighted the Barcelona 1992 Games, which the IPC was not responsible for, London 2012 and Sochi 2014 among his favourite moments from the last 25 years.
“If I was to pick one single sporting moment, it would definitely have to be Jonnie Peacock’s 100 metres T44 win at London 2012,” he added.
“To hear 80,000 people chant one athlete’s name was extraordinary.
“But to see him silence the crowd, cope with the pressure and storm to gold less than 11 seconds later was unbelievable.
“It wasn’t just a great Paralympic moment but one of the best sporting moments ever.
“As a wheelchair basketball player, my favourite athlete of the last 25 years has to be Canada’s Patrick Anderson.
“He’s one of the best players to ever play the sport; an immense presence on the court.
“Because he plays a team sport, where you can only win one medal at one Games, he has not received the plaudits he deserves.”
The IPC will celebrate its silver jubilee with a special gala dinner for hundreds of members and special guests who have played a pivotal role in its success in Berlin in early October.
Either side of the dinner, between October 3 to 5, the IPC will also host a strategic conference involving both IPC members and other key parties from the wider Paralympic Movement to advise on its future direction.
“Whilst it is important that we celebrate our landmark anniversary together with those who have contributed towards our success, it is even more important to look ahead to the future and where we want the IPC and the Paralympic Movement to go over the next 25 years,” Sir Philip said.
“The Paralympic Movement is enjoying a prolonged growth spurt at the moment but we must not sit back and kick our heels.
“In Berlin we will consider our next 25 years and it’s a real opportunity for all interested parties to meet together and talk over the opportunities for the future.
“Our relationship with the IOC, commercial partners and broadcasters has never been stronger and we must use what we have achieved over the last 25 years as a platform for future growth.
“The Paralympic vision is ‘to enable Paralympic athletes to achieve sporting excellence and inspire and excite the world’.
“Over the coming years I want us to inspire and excite the whole world.”