|Sir Philip Craven MBE- President, International Paralympic Committee|
|Profile of the week|
Friday, 24 August 2012 15:14
Sir Philip Craven MBE is the President of the International Paralympic Committee.
Under his guidance, the Paralympic Movement has enjoyed substantial development, now boasting in excess of 200 members, including 174 national Paralympic committees worldwide.
He is a member of the International Olympic Committee, as well as the IPC representative on several other international organisations, such as the Foundation Board of the World Anti-Doping Agency and the Administration Council of the International Committee for Fair Play.
In addition, for his dedication to advancing the Paralympic Movement and for his enormous contribution to UK Sport, he was awarded a Knighthood in the Queen’s Birthday Honours List in 2005.
Prior to his career in sports administration, he shone on the international stage as an athlete, picking up the gold medal at the World Championship/Gold Cup (1973), European Championships (1971 and 1974), European Champions League Cup (1994) and the Commonwealth Games (1970).
Sir Philip currently resides in Cheshire with his wife, Jocelyne. They have two children, Gaëlle and Yann.
How do you build a greater understanding and use of the Paralympic brand?
The key is to get individual athletes out in front of the media and the spectators. That is something that was achieved with regards to British spectators on the TV during the Beijing 2008 Games and we have been able to build on that. Eleanor Simmons and David Weir were big hits and now we have other names that are going to be household names. It is very important that you get the athletes out there so people say ‘look, it is great sport and we want to go along and watch it’. Tickets are close to sold out, which just shows that people in Britain and many other countries around the world are coming to watch the Paralympic Games.
Are there sufficient facilities to cater for impairment in Britain and help athletes progress on to the international stage, like Eleanor Simmons has done?
I remember when I was an international player; I got in the Great Britain team at the age of 19, only a month before I went to Manchester University for a three year degree course in Geography. I just scraped through with a lower-second class honours degree, but I most certainly got first-class honours in Wheelchair Basketball. The players thirty years ago were great, but now the facilities are there, through lottery money and the Great Britain Wheelchair Basketball Association, to ensure the pathways are there for any individual who thinks they’ve got international capabilities to follow it through and become a part of the international set up. The facilities, the back-up and the support have really been transformed since lottery money became available from UK Sport. Things have moved on and improved a lot.
Do the Paralympic Games get the recognition they deserve?
People always want more recognition and they are right to think that, in a way. You have to work very hard at developing your movement, helping your National Paralympic Committees develop and helping the international Paralympic sports to develop. We are now seeing the fruit coming now off the tree. We are gaining recognition and will do that even more with the Games in London. We are here for the long haul, so there’s no sort of end game or final target that we are aiming for. We want more athletes partaking in Paralympic sports all over the world. We want more events for Paralympic sports all over the world.
The 2008 Beijing Paralympic Games proved to be a complete success and an unbelievable spectacle. Have you fully capitalised on those Games?
Yes, we have been able to make the most of those incredible Games in Beijing in 2008, where the world really woke up to the Paralympic Movement. I said at the closing ceremony in Beijing four years ago that they were the greatest Paralympic Games ever. It showed the world around 4,000 great athletes competing to packed stadia and what people are capable of when they really set their minds to it. The way we have been able to partner LOCOG for the past six and a half years has really ensured that the Paralympic Games in London are going to be a tremendous success.
Have all your requirements been accommodated by LOCOG?
Yes. The London bid committee for the Olympic and Paralympic Games went for the bid very much with the Paralympics in mind. Seb Coe, Paul Deighton, Keith Mills and the team came back from Beijing four years ago completely inspired by what they had seen. They knew they had a major task to take on with the Paralympics, but really looked forward to doing it. There have not been too many problems and six and a half years is a good period of time to iron any out and that is what has happened.
How closely do you work with the International Olympic Committee to ensure that problems that occurred during the Olympic Games are not repeated during the Paralympics?
We have a very good working relationship with the IOC. Throughout the Olympic Games we have had contact with them regarding their experiences during the Games. Outside of the Games, there is a very good interchange of experiences and knowledge, which has been an incredible benefit to the IPC. To be able to work with them and learn from their past experiences really stopped the need to reinvent the wheel on many occasions.
In the past eleven years, since I started as President, the IPC has built a team in Bonn that can interact most efficiently with organising committees to ensure a high level, whenever and wherever the Paralympic Games take place. Then, when you hit it off with an organising committee, like we have done in London, you get incredible Games. All the pointers are there for a tremendous Paralympic Games. We have LOCOG, the IOC, the IPC and all its members to thank for that.