30 Dec 2012

Honours 2013: Have Paralympians been treated fairly?

Following the announcement of the new year honours list on Saturday, accusations are made that Paralympians have to achieve more than their Olympic counterparts in order to receive titles.

Lee Pearson, a ten-times Paralympic gold medallist, was one of the Paralympians who spoke out on Sunday, claiming that Paralympians have to win “lots and lots” of medals in order to get an honour, when Olympians sometimes just have to win a couple.

His comments, in the Independent on Sunday, were echoed by the British Paralympic Association. A spokeswoman said:”It is understandable that some of the athletes whose historical achievements were not recognised in the same way as those achievements in 2012 are expressing frustration.

“This is the most balanced honours list that we have seen in the history of Paralympic sport in terms of recognising achievement, and we recognise that it is in incredibly difficult task to apportion honours after such a phenomenal year. However, there is still an element of ‘catch up’ to happen.”

Comments on Twitter also suggested that there is a feeling amongst Paralympians that the honours system does not credit them in the same way as it does Olympians. Jonnie Peacock, gold medal winner in the T44 100m at London 2012, queried “How much does @davidweir2012 have to do to get a knighting?”.

Weir, who won four gold medals and earned the nickname “the Weirwolf” during the games, also suggested that Sarah Storey should have received the title of dame “a long time ago”, but clarified that receiving his CBE made him “proud to be British and have been honoured”.

Here, Channel 4 News looks at some of the new year honours recipients from both the Olympic and Paralympic teams, and sees how they compare.

Dame Sarah Storey and Sir Bradley Wiggins

Dame Sarah Storey and Sir Bradley Wiggins

Dame Sarah Storey has won 11 gold medals, eight silver medals and three bronze medals across her Paralympics career in both the swimming pool and on the cycling track. The amount brings her level with Baroness Tanni Grey-Thompson.

Sir Bradley Wiggins has won considerably less medals – four golds, one silver and three bronzes – but also has an impressive record away from Olympic competitions, most notably becoming the first British winner of the Tour de France. He has also won a host of medals from the world cycling championships.

Mo Farah CBE and David Weir CBE

Mo Farah CBE and David Weir CBE

Mo Farah and David Weir were two of the stars of the London 2012 event, with Farah’s “Mobot” being replicated across the world and Weir earning the nickname “the Weirwolf”.

The two middle-to-long distance competitors were awarded CBEs in the honours list. Farah has won two Olympic golds in his career, both at the 2012 Olympics, but also a host of world and European medals.

The honours committee does also consider charitable work when deciding the honours – and in this regard Farah has been involved in a number of ventures. The Mo Farah Foundation was set up by the athlete following a trip to Somalia in 2011 and provides aid to people facing starvation and disease in east Africa.

David Weir arguably has the most impressive athletics career. At the London 2012 Paralympics he won four gold medals, taking his Paralympic gold total to six alongside two silver medals and two bronze medals.

He has nine gold medals from other European and world competitions. He has won the London marathon on six occasions – equalling the record of Baroness Tanni Grey-Thompson.

Sophie Christiansen OBE and Charlotte Dujardin OBE

Sophie Christiansen OBE and Charlotte Dujardin OBE (Reuters)

Sophie Christiansen and Charlotte Dujardin have both been awarded OBEs. Christiansen has won five golds, a silver and a bronze over three Paralympic Games, whilst Dujardin, who competed in her first Olympics this year, has won two gold medals.

Christiansen, however, has tweeted that she thinks the list this year was “fair”, adding that “I’m thrilled with my OBE”.

Jessica Ennis CBE and Hannah Cockroft MBE

Jessica Ennis CBE and Hannah Cockroft MBE (Reuters)

Jessica Ennis has won one gold in Olympics competition, in the heptathlon at London 2012, but has been awarded the higher honour of CBE over Hannah Cockroft, who has an MBE despite her two gold medals. Ennis does also do charitable work and is a patron of Sheffield Children’s Hospital.

Both athletes have had success in the world championships and European championships – Ennis picking up six gold medals and Cockroft four gold medals.