Last week, Inas and its various partner organisations, won the “Research Council Award for Exceptional Research Contribution” at the Podium Awards held at the Olympic Park in London. It was awarded in recognition of the classification project which has enabled athletes with an intellectual disability to compete once again in Paralympic competition.
While the excitement of winning the award last week is still very much in the minds of us all, I would like to pay tribute to this amazing achievement in three very specific areas:
Firstly I would like to thank Professor Jan Burns and the entire team of researchers that were involved in this work for the way in which so many different individuals and research institutions came together, each bringing a different perspective, but all with a single and total commitment to overcoming a common challenge: achieving a robust system of testing and classification for athletes with intellectual disabilities. That you did this on a voluntary basis is particularly noteworthy.
Secondly, I would like to thank everybody within IPC and within Inas for the commitment shown by both organisations to this work. It has been a true partnership; one which I hope will continue to grow stronger and stronger over time, giving more opportunities for athletes with intellectual disabilities to compete at the highest level.
And lastly, but most importantly, I would like to pay tribute to all the athletes and our member organisations for the way in which everybody co-operated with the research testing at events, and embraced the need to introduce new systems of classification.
As we look forward to the London Paralympic Games, we must however remember that it has taken a long time to achieve success, and I want the Award to recognise not just those athletes who can now look forward to competing in London and future Paralympic Games, but to make a particular dedication to those for whom it perhaps came too late and sadly missed their opportunity to do so.
Whatever your involvement in the research project or your hopes for London, I believe the Podium award achievement recognises all your patience, efforts and commitment and I look forward to seeing you in – a very successful – London Paralympic Games.