The integrated Para-sport program for the 2018 Commonwealth Games will be the most extensive in Commonwealth Games history. The announcement, made by the Commonwealth Games Federation (CGF) and the Gold Coast 2018 Commonwealth Games Corporation (GOLDOC), coincides with the international Commonwealth Day celebrations today, 14 March, and the launch of the 2016 theme of ‘An Inclusive Commonwealth’.
Minister for the Commonwealth Games, Stirling Hinchliffe, joined Australian elite Para-sport athletes Brenden Hall, Madeleine Hogan and Rowan Crothers, and aspiring Para-triathlete, Sara Tait, at an event in South Bank, QLD, to announce details of the record-breaking program. Later today (15 March), Para-athletes will attend the annual Commonwealth Day Service at Westminster Abbey in England and meet Her Majesty the Queen at a special reception at Marlborough House, home of the Commonwealth Secretariat.
“Gold Coast 2018 is going for gold to deliver an inclusive Games, and will host the largest Para-sport program in its history,” Hinchliffe said.
“We will be setting a new record in Commonwealth Games sporting history, hosting up to 300 Para-sport athletes and 38 medal events across seven sports, which is an increase of 45 per cent more athletes and 73 per cent more medals compared to the Para-sport competition staged at the Glasgow 2014 Commonwealth Games.
“I am also pleased to announce there will be an equal number of men’s and women’s events across all seven Para-sports, highlighting the commitment to equality and inclusion at the 2018 Games.”
Welcoming the announcement, Louise Martin, President of the CGF, said: “With the largest ever number of Para-sport events in Commonwealth sporting history, we are thrilled that Gold Coast 2018 will deliver an ambitious and welcome growth for the inclusive and integrated Para-sport competition first presented at a Commonwealth Games in Manchester 2002.
“Today’s announcement to celebrate ‘An Inclusive Commonwealth’ ensures that the next edition of the Games will enable sports fans in Australia and across the world to support a record-breaking number of Para-athletes at a Commonwealth Games.”
Disability Services Minister, Coralee O’Rourke, said increasing the inclusion of people with a disability at the Commonwealth Games was a step in the right direction towards creating equal opportunities for all Australians.
“People with disability should be supported to participate in and contribute to all levels of sport, and I am pleased that this has been recognised in time for Gold Coast 2018,” O’Rourke said.
“CGF and the GOLDOC are leading the way by integrating elite athletes with disability into the Games through the Para-sport program. This program is already doing a fantastic job by putting Para-athletes and their achievements in the spotlight.
“People with disability can achieve amazing things – such as winning a gold medal at the Commonwealth Games – if given the opportunity, and this program will give them the opportunity to do just that.”
The Para-sport program for the 2018 Commonwealth Games has been developed by the CGF and GOLDOC in consultation with the International Paralympic Committee (IPC) and the Australian Commonwealth Games Association to showcase the best Para-sport in the Commonwealth.
The sports to be contested are: Para-athletics, Para-cycling, Para-lawn bowls, Para-powerlifting, Para-swimming, Para-table tennis and Para-triathlon. The Para-athletics and Para-swimming programs will double in size from the previous Games.
The GOLDOC’s Chairman, Nigel Chamier, said he was delighted to announce that Para-triathlon would make its debut at the 2018 Games, building on the great success of the triathlon competition in 2014 and the sport’s increasing profile across the globe.
Chamier added: “Para-sport at GC2018 [Gold Coast 2018] will also reach its widest ever audience, as the first ever wheelchair marathon at a Commonwealth Games takes to the streets and communities of the Gold Coast as part of the free road events.”
Commenting on the announcement, renowned world, Paralympic and Commonwealth Games champion, Kurt Fearnley said: “I am so proud, and can’t think of a more fitting way to celebrate Commonwealth Day and ‘An Inclusive Commonwealth’ than this exciting announcement today.”
Underpinning the new proposals is the CGF’s strategic plan, Transformation 2022, which ensures member associations are supported and subsidised to send larger Para-sport teams to the Gold Coast.
Sir Philip Craven, President of the IPC, said: “It is fantastic news for all Commonwealth Para-athletes that Gold Coast 2018 will stage the biggest Para-sport program to date at a Commonwealth Games. At Glasgow 2014, the Para-sport events were extremely popular, and I am sure the Australian crowds will turn out in force to see some of the best athletes in the world line up across seven sports.”
City of Gold Coast Mayor, Tom Tate, said the expanded Para-sport program would set the benchmark for future host cities.
“A fantastic legacy from our Games would be for other host cities to also adopt an expanded Para-sport program,” said Tate.
“Having more world-class athletes here, competing at the pinnacle of their sport, is great for our Games and great for the spectators.”
By the CGF