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Paralympic hopefuls given green light but Mencap warns job's not done
Saturday 21 November 2009
Mencap today celebrates the decision to give athletes with a learning disability a chance to fulfil their Paralympic ambitions. However, the learning disability charity warns that if funding is not available immediately athletes will not be ready to compete in London's ‘inclusive' Olympic Games.
An announcement by the International Paralympic Committee (IPC) today, 21 November 2009, confirmed that athletes with a learning disability will once again be allowed to participate in one of the world's most prestigious sports events. Mencap is now calling on the government to ensure funding is available immediately so that athletes are ready to compete in London 2012.
Mark Goldring, Mencap chief executive, said: "Everyone at Mencap is delighted that after years of campaigning, athletes with a learning disability will no longer be excluded from the Paralympic Games. However without immediate funding, British athletes will remain excluded from London 2012 despite the ban being lifted. This would be a national embarrassment."
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Learning disability and the Paralympics
To read the IPC's statement visit http://www.paralympic.org/Media_Centre/News/General_News/2009_11_21_a.html
- Mencap has been campaigning for the Paralympic ban on athletes with a learning disability competing in the Games to be overturned since Sydney 2000, when members of the Spanish basketball team falsely claimed to have a learning disability.
- At the Sydney Paralympics 11 athletes with a learning disability represented Great Britain. They returned home with five silver medals and three bronze medals, won in athletics and swimming.
- Funding has been cut as a result of the ban, as elite sport funding is only available to elite athletes who will be medal hopefuls in Paralympic competition. Prior to the ban, elite athletes with a learning disability qualified for lottery funding, this is available to all world-class elite athletes.
Mencap and learning disability
- 1.5 million people in the UK have a learning disability.
- Learning disability affects someone's intellectual and social development all their life. It is not mental illness. It is not dyslexia.
- It used to be called mental handicap but we don't use this term anymore because most people with a learning disability find it offensive.