Sir Philip Craven, President of the International Paralympic Committee (IPC), has told Sochi 2014 to build on the success of past Winter Games and challenged the Organising Committee to follow Vancouver 2010 instead of emulating what happened at London 2012 six months ago.
With exactly one year to go to the Winter Paralympic Games in Russia, Sir Philip has said he is already counting down the days to the Opening Ceremony and has encouraged Sochi 2014 to follow in the footsteps in Vancouver 2010, which he described as the best Winter Paralympics to date at the Closing Ceremony.
“Whilst celebrating, it must be remembered that the Winter Games are far smaller than those that take place in the summer,” he explained in an exclusive blog written for insidethegames. “Whereas London boasted 4,237 athletes from 164 countries competing across 502 medal events in 20 sports, Sochi will feature a maximum of 692 athletes from 45 nations. “They will contest 72 medal events in five sports. “The challenge for Sochi 2014 now is not to try to emulate what happened in London six months ago, but to build on the success of Vancouver 2010, the best Winter Games to date.” Sir Philip also said how recent Paralympic events had sparked his excitement ahead of next year’s Games and how he was confident in Russia’s ability to deliver an exceptional showpiece event. “Having recently attended the 2013 IPC Alpine Skiing World Championships in La Molina, Spain, I have to say I cannot wait for Sochi 2014 to start,” he said. “This will be Russia’s first home Paralympic Games and I am confident that Sochi 2014 President Dmitry Chernyshenko and his team will be leaving no stone unturned in delivering the best Games they possibly can. “They have a lot of work to undertake between now and March 7 2014 when the Games begin, and I am sure that the on-going test events will be a significant learning experience for all involved. “As with all our events, we have to continue moving forward and making progress.
“I hope in 12 months time in Sochi I can say afterwards that Russia’s first Paralympic Games helped continue the exponential growth the Paralympic Movement has enjoyed since 1960.”The next two weeks will see a number of test events taking place in Sochi in Para-snowboard, alpine skiing and nordic skiing, with an ice sledge hockey test event is scheduled for August.
Wheelchair curling’s test event took place last month, when the Ice Cube Curling Centre in the Olympic Park staged the World Championships, which were won by Canada.
Sir Philip believes the home nation will be the team to beat and claims medal success could have a significant impact on Russian society.
“As this is Russia’s first Paralympics on home soil, I suspect the national team will go all out to win as many medals as possible,” he said, highlighting the country’s recent success at both the IPC Nordic and Alpine Skiing World Championships”. “Quite simply they have the potential to be Russia’s most successful team at any sporting event judging by recent results”. “History shows that home medal success at a Paralympic Games generates widespread media coverage and Russia should be no different”. “As shown in London, widespread positive media coverage, positioning medal-winning athletes as role models has the potential to change perceptions, shift attitudes and inspire a generation”. “I know my good friend Dmitry Chernyshenko has witnessed such results firsthand now at a number of Paralympic Games and he will be determined to repeat such success in Sochi and across Russia”. “Initiatives such as the Paralympic Awareness Programme and award-winning accessibility map will go some way in delivering this.”
The Sochi 2014 Paralympic Winter Games open on March 7 and will be broadcast in more countries than ever before thanks to recently announced deals with British broadcaster Channel 4 and the European Broadcasting Union (EBU).