The University of Alberta, Faculty of Rehabilitation Medicine , as part of their Distinguished Speaker Series is sponsoring a talk
(This news story originally appeared on the Wired blog, with credit to be given to BA Haller over at the Media and Disability blog.)
Snapshot of Beijing subway station with a train in the station. In the foreground, the viewer sees a wheelchair symbol on the platform indicating an accessible entrance and exit. ST
In what may be the most significant improvement in human rights brought about by the 2008 Olympics and Paralympics, Beijing has become less of a Forbidden City for the disabled. Even though more than one million disabled people live within its city limits, Beijing’s crowded subway was practically inaccessible to anyone not able to rush to the front of the platform on their own two feet. Now, according to the official Chinese government information site china.org.cn, the improvements made in preparation for the Games will become permanent, allowing disabled riders to travel without barriers.
“I can’t believe this is true. Three hours ago I was at home, and now I’m here with all these others watching Paralympic Games competitions,” randomly-selected wheelchair-bound Beijing citizen Wang Shufen said. “The volunteers and subway and bus workers were really helpful. Without them, I would never have made it.” Of course, China.org.cn made sure to note that the 70-year-old Wang was smiling all through her interview, and never mentioned whether she lived ten feet or ten miles from the stadium. Still, for a city that banned the country’s few guide dogs and disqualified the disabled from entrance to many schools, any effort to open the city’s transit infrastructure to the disabled is a welcome change.
Read the full story here: http://blog.wired.com/cars/2008/09/barrier-free-be.html
By Wing-Gar Cheng
Sept. 9 (Bloomberg) — Double-amputee Oscar Pistorius won today’s 100 meters at the Paralympic Games in Beijing, though he missed his objective of beating his own world record time. South Africa’s Pistorius, nicknamed “Blade Runner” because of his carbon-fiber prosthetic legs, finished in 11.17 seconds at the Bird’s Nest stadium, about a quarter of a second slower than his world mark of 10.91 set last year. Continue reading
September 7, 2008
BEIJING – Valerie Grand’Maison got Canada off to a flying start at the Paralympics, leading a podium sweep in the 100-metre butterfly for the visually impaired on the opening day of competition.
Cyclist Jean Quevillon captured Canada’s first medal of the Games earlier in the day, a bronze in the men’s individual pursuit for cerebral palsy athletes.
Grand’Maison, from Longueuil, Que., Kirby Cote of Winnipeg and Chelsea Gotell of Antigonish, N.S., finished 1-2-3 in the butterfly. The 19-year-old Grand’Maison clocked a Canadian record one minute 6.49 seconds in her Games debut, less than a second off the 12-year-old world record.
“I’m so happy, I’m speechless right now,” said Grand’Maison, who won five gold medals at the 2006 world championships. “It’s a dream come true. Every single morning I have thought about winning Paralympic gold and it has now finally happened. “And it was extra special to share the podium with my teammates. It’s a proud moment for us.”
Published: September 5, 2008
Iniguez is one of many Paralympians who criticize the United States Olympic Committee for providing less direct financial assistance and other benefits at lower levels to Paralympic athletes than to Olympians in comparable sports. The committee awards smaller quarterly training stipends and medal bonuses to Paralympic athletes. Benefits like free health insurance, which help athletes devote more hours to training, are available to a smaller percentage of Paralympians. Continue reading
Basic story 1: Australian Matthew Mitcham clinched the gold medal in the 10 metre dive with his final dive of the day, knocking off Chinese favourite Zhou Luxin by just under 5 points overall. Mitcham was the only non-Chinese athlete to score a gold in the diving, and also received the hightest score EVER for a diver in this event. Yay Matt!
Basic story 2: Matthew Mitcham, who won a gold medal in something watery, was the only openly gay male athlete at the Beijing Olympics. Of the roughly 11 000 athletes competing, 10 openly lesbian women have been identified (by strategically placed spies?). If at least half the athletes competing were men, that makes calculating the percentage of openly gay male athletes something that even I can calculate: 1 in 5500. (Women: 1 in 550). Let’s stick our necks out, and hazard a guess: that’s significantly lower than the base rate of openly gay people in the rest of society. Every society. Yay … society?
Basic story 3: NBC and other major US networks ignored Basic Story 2 in covering Basic Story 1. Sports and sexual orientation are just separate things, and they were just interested in covering sports. Yay, self-deception!
Basic Story 4: Basic Story 2 is of much more interest to many people than Basic Story 1. As is the ambivalence that Basic Story 2 creates in many people who share that interest. (And as conveyed by my sorry attempt at a punchline in Basic Story 2.) Three cheers for Matthew on all fronts, but really, which century are we living in? In addition, people who get worked up about Basic Story 3 should really get Out more. Continue reading
[picture of Natalie Du Toit preparing to dive into the pool from what appears to be a dustjacket for a book; small, typed writing on bottom half of page]
Natalie Du Toit, an amputee swimmer who qualified for the able bodied 10 km swim in Beijing, has just placed 16th in that event, more than one minute behind winner Larisa Ilchenko of Russia. She had kept up with the lead pack for most of the race but could not keep up when the pace quickened in the latter part of the race. She was disappointed with her result hoping for a top five placing. She plans to be back in the London 2012 Olympics in that event. She will be staying in Beijing for the next month to compete in the Paralympics.
In 1976, a group of activists known as the Union of Physically Impaired Against Segregation (UPIAS), introduced a set of terms intended to counter medicalized definitions of disability. While the medicalized definitions previously articulated were ultimately reducible to individual pathology, the UPIAS definitions locate the “causes” of disability within society and social organization. The UPIAS defined disability in this way:
Disability is something imposed on top of our impairments by the way we are unnecessarily isolated and excluded from full participation in society. Disabled people are therefore an oppressed group in society. To understand this it is necessary to grasp the distinction between the physical impairment and the social situation, called ‘disability,’ of people with such impairment. Thus, we define impairment as lacking part of or all of a limb, or having a defective limb, organ or mechanism of the body; and disability as the disadvantage or restriction of activity caused by a contemporary social organization which takes no or little account of people who have physical impairments and thus excludes them from participation in the mainstream of social activities. Physical disability is therefore a particular form of social oppression. Continue reading
Today’s big Olympic story (see CBC coverage here and National Post coverage here) was not about athletic accomplishments, but rather another lip-syncing controversy. This time, it was something far more disturbing than learning that Luciano Pavarotti lip-synced his performance at the 2006 Torino Winter Olympics. Rather, today we learned that not only did nine-year-old Lin Miaoke lip-synch her performance of “Ode to the Motherland” at the Beijing opening ceremony, but the girl who actually sang the song, seven-year-old Yang Peiyi, was considered not beautiful enough to represent China because of her crooked teeth. According to Chen Qigang, the ceremony’s chief music director, “The reason was for the national interest. The child on camera should be flawless in image, internal feelings and expression.”
It is interesting to note that the Chinese quest for the perfect prototype is one that has deeper roots in terms of how they see themselves in scope of human evolution. Several studies have demonstrated that the concept of race has been rejected by about 75% of anthropologists globally in terms of understanding human biological variation. Interestingly, a recent study of the race concept in China showed that of 324 articles directly related to human variation printed in Acta Anthropologica Sinica, China’s only journal dedicated to physical anthropology, none questioned the validity of human racial classification. Rather, several articles were mainly concerned with the biological differences among or between ‘major races.’ The reason for this is that Continue reading
Cullen Jones, only the second African American to ever swim on the US Olympic swim team, won a gold medal in the 4×100 free relay that broke the world record and also upset the French team in an unbelievable comeback finish.
Cullen, who nearly drowned as a young boy, is also a spokesperson for USA Swimming’s Make a Splash program which is promoting swimming among minorities. It has been shown that among ethnically diverse groups, they are nearly three times more likely to drown than the national average.
You can see a range of other sports-related posts at What Sorts right here
Du Toit will compete in the women’s 10-kilometre marathon swim. She booked her place by finishing fourth in the 10-kilometre race at the World Open Water Swimming Championships in Seville in May 2008. Now she has the chance to become the first athlete with an amputated leg to win an Olympic medal in 56 years. Continue reading
An opinion piece in the New York Times by Jennifer Finney Boylan, “The XY Games”, explores the practice of gender testing in the Olympics to determine that female athletes are in fact female. The author discusses the history of this testing, its faults, and the ambiguity of sex and gender. Amongst some of the things that one might want to discuss is the following:
“So what makes someone female then? If it’s not chromosomes, or a uterus, or the ability to get pregnant, or femininity, or being attracted to men, then what is it, and how can you possibly test for it? Continue reading
With less than three weeks prior to the Beijing Olympics, the South China Morning Post has reported that bar owners in the Sanlitun district have been instructed not to serve persons with dark skin. The article reports:
Bar owners near the Workers’ Stadium in central Beijing say they have been forced by Public Security Bureau officials to sign pledges agreeing not to let black people enter their premises.”Uniformed Public Security Bureau officers came into the bar recently and told me not to serve black people or Mongolians,” said the co-owner of a western-style bar, who asked not to be named.
Although some query the validity of this report, it is creating quite a buzz in the blogging world. Read further on this story here.
Its about a swimmer with cerebral palsy and developmental differences. An excerpt
“Mr. Kendall Bailey, an athlete who is a citizen of the USA and eligible to represent the USA in international competition, is inappropriately classified to compete in International Paralympic Committee (IPC) swimming competition. Mr. Bailey is intellectually disabled. The intellectual disability classification for swimming (S14) is not presently recognized by the IPC; nor is an intellectually disabled swimmer eligible to compete under the IPC Swimming Functional Classification System.”
Being an L1 paraplegic who also swims to keep fit and who grew up as a competitive swimmer, I was amazed when I read about this South African amputee swimmer who made it to the Beijing Olympics in the able bodied 10km open water swim. Natalie Du Toit was amputated through her left knee after being hit by a car back in 2001. She does not use a prosthetic leg when she swims. She recently came fourth in the Open Water World Championships where she qualified for Beijing. I am looking forward to seeing how she performs at the Olympics later this summer.
This article talks more about her story. I decided to blog on this after reading about Oscar Pistorius on the post by Spirit of the Time.
Update ( 08.08.08 ) by Spirit of the Time: see also this more recent What Sorts post on Natalie Du Toit, written just before and after the opening ceremonies at the Beijing Olympics.
Update ( 20.08.08 ) by Spirit of the Time: see also this recent What Sorts post on Natalie’s 10km swim results.
Oscar Pistorius will be racing over this weekend in The Netherlands. At least some of the races, especially the 400 metres, will give him an opportunity to set a time that improves his chances of qualifying for the Beijing Olympics; his personal best time is 1 second slower than the qualifying time, and he’s apparently not in top-form right now. But still … he’s probably got as good a chance as the Penguins have of trumping the Red Wings in the Stanley Cup. The CBC has a nice short story on this right here.
Go, Oscar, go!
Update: news of his 200 metre run from Sports Illustrated, and now of his 100 and 400 metre runs here. Oscar needs to shave just more than 2 seconds off his 400 metre time in order to qualify for the South African team by qualification time, unless no other South African has a qualifying time.
one has to see whether the new language will be better