Five athletes joined the Paralympic Hall of Fame yesterday on the first day of competition at the Beijing Paralympic Games.
Andre Viger of Canada, Claudia Hengst of Germany, Connie Hansen of Denmark, and Kevin McIntosh and Peter Homann of Australia were selected by the International Paralympic Committee (IPC) for their athletic performance, history of fair play, and community service.
"These five inductees have excelled and demonstrated their elite athletic status on and off the playing field," said Philip Craven, president of the IPC. "They have become role models to future athletes and to the Paralympic Movement."
The Paralympic Hall of Fame was established in 2006 by Visa, a global sponsor of the Paralympic Games, to celebrate the spirit and achievements of athletes with disabilities and their coaches, and to promote the betterment of people with disabilities world-wide.
The election and induction ceremonies for the Paralympic Hall of Fame are held in conjunction with the Paralympic Games and the Paralympic Winter Games. The first ceremony was held on March 9, 2006, during the Turin Winter Paralympic Games, where three Paralympians were inducted.
Wheelchair athlete Viger, who passed away last year, participated in every edition of the Paralympic Games from 1984 to 1996, winning two gold medals, two silvers, and one bronze. He also won the wheelchair division of the prestigious Boston Marathon in 1984, 1986, and 1987.
German swimmer Hengst has participated and won medals in every Paralympic Games since Seoul in 1988. She won six gold medals in Seoul and collected a total of eight medals in Barcelona.
Hansen and Homann were also multiple gold medal winners, in athletics and cycling respectively. McIntosh enjoyed a successful coaching career, leading his cyclists to a total of 10 gold medals in Sydney and Athens.
"Not many athletes are recognized in this way, so it is a great honor," said Hansen. "I've had some great moments in my career, and it is nice to be told that other people also recognize those moments."
To be eligible for the Paralympic Hall of Fame, athletes and coaches must have participated in at least two Paralympic Games and must have won a number of medals, either directly or through athletes they have trained. They must also have ceased to be an active participant in the Paralympic Games at least four years prior to the year of election.
Source: China Daily