Training Elite Athletes

image002 The University of Alberta, Faculty of Rehabilitation Medicine , as part of their Distinguished Speaker Series is sponsoring a talk

Applied Research to support the paralympic wheelchair athlete for Beijing

By Dr. Vicky Tolfrey, Loughborigh University, United Kingdom

Thursday, October 22, 2009 at 5 PM

2- 39 Corbett Hall

Refreshments to Follow

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Olympics/Paralympics, Beijing, and a wheelchair-accessible subway system

(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

`Blade Runner’ Pistorius Wins 100 Meters at Paralympic Games

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

Canadians sweep podium in Paralympic pool

TheStar.com/Toronto Star

September 7, 2008

THE CANADIAN PRESS

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.”

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NY Times article: For Paralympians Around World, Assistance Varies

 By JOSHUA ROBINSON and ALAN SCHWARZ

Published: September 5, 2008

Every nation, because of how sports programs and health-care systems are structured, has a different method of financing its national-team athletes for the Olympics and the Paralympics. A sampling: Continue reading

Paralympic Athletes Add Equality to Their Goals

Published: September 5, 2008

AURORA, Ill. — When he rolls to the starting line for the 1,500-meter wheelchair race at the Paralympics, the Olympics for disabled athletes that begin Saturday in Beijing, Tony Iniguez will wear his Team USA uniform with pride. He will compete for the United States’s Olympic program. He is also suing it for discrimination.
Paralympic athlete Tony Iniguez worked out at the East Aurora High School track in July.
photo by Peter Wynn Thompson for The New York Times

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

Gay Diver Makes a Splash

Cover picture from the gay magazine The Advocate of Matthew Mitcham

Cover picture from the gay magazine The Advocate of Matthew Mitcham

Ok, ok, ok, so I *haven’t* actually seen this headline in a tabloid of late, but given all the kerfuffle that my compatriot Matthew Mitcham’s gold medal in the 10 metre diving event has caused, I might well have. There’s a few stories to watch and sort through (and don’t give up until you’ve taken The Quiz, a special feature of today’s post, below the fold.)

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