Disabled sports stars and campaigners have praised Glasgow’s Commonwealth Games, pointing to impressive levels of access and the successful integration of mainstream and para-sports events.
Disabled competitors from the five para-sports that were included in the games – athletics, powerlifting, track cycling, lawn bowls and swimming – were enthusiastic about the experience, while the home nations won 23 medals from the 22 events, failing to medal in just four of them.
There were golds for England’s Dan Greaves in the discus and David Weir in the T54 1,500 metres, while Libby Clegg won Scotland’s first Commonwealth track gold for 20 years in the T12 100 metres. She and her guide runner Mikhail Huggins had earlier been given the honour of taking the oath on behalf all the athletes at the opening ceremony.
In the pool, England’s Ollie Hynd won gold in the SM8 200 metres individual medley, but it was Scotland’s 13-year-old Erraid Davies who secured the headlines with a bronze medal in the SB9 100 metres breaststroke.
Davies became Scotland’s youngest-ever Commonwealth medal-winner, with her name briefly trending worldwide on Twitter.
On the cycling track, the organisers had chosen four tandem para-sports events, and the home nations won all four golds, with England’s Sophie Thornhill and her pilot Helen Scott winning both women’s events, and Scotland’s Neil Fachie and his pilot Craig Maclean winning both men’s gold medals.
The para-sports events were integrated into the mainstream timetable and the results of disabled athletes were counted in the overall medal table, while the level of inclusion was also obvious from the social media interaction between mainstream and disabled athletes.
England’s Bethy Woodward, who won silver in the T37/38 women’s long jump, while also supporting her partner Lee Doran in the mainstream men’s javelin, said on Twitter: “Even though [it is] primarily an able-bodied event we were so welcomed and celebrated.
“[What] an honour to have been competing alongside my fellow athletes in such an inclusive way. Just outstanding.”
England’s Ali Jawad achieved two new world records in what he said was “the performance of my life”, in winning bronze in the lightweight men’s powerliftiing.
He praised the organisation of the games, and said on Twitter that the crowd had been “electric”.
There were also positive reports about the accessibility of Glasgow 2014 for spectators.
Baroness [Tanni] Grey-Thompson, who managed to fit in some spectating among her broadcasting duties as a BBC analyst, praised games organisers, while she said the staff attitude was “really good”.
Her one criticism was of access to some venue entrances because of the presence of cobbles.
Pam Duncan-Glancy, policy officer for the Independent Living in Scotland project, said she found events themselves to be accessible, but transport in and around the city to be “poor and significantly worse than normal”.
She usually finds bus travel around the city reasonably accessible, but with the increased number of passengers during the games, she was having to wait for four or five buses before she could board one.
She added: “My husband is a wheelchair user and sometimes bus drivers let us travel together (this is down to the driver’s discretion as they are only supposed to take one wheelchair per bus) however, during the games time, they were more reluctant to use such discretion.
“In one incident, we were split up at 11pm and made to travel on our own where previously we usually got on together.”
Organisers were also praised for ensuring that the opening and closing ceremonies included palantypist provision for those with hearing impairments.
A Glasgow 2014 spokesman said that each venue had offered accessible transport provision, including pre-bookable services such as accessible shuttle buses, parking for blue badge-holders and accessible taxis.
He said: “Training on accessibility and inclusion [was] embedded into all aspects of our workforce training programme with in-depth training on accessibility and inclusion delivered to workforce with key customer-facing roles.”
Many of the venues offered audio description commentary, he said, and he added: “The feedback we received regarding all areas of accessibility, from access to venues to transport throughout the city and the knowledge and understanding of staff and workforce to the accessible needs of spectators has been outstanding.”
A spokeswoman for First Glasgow – which runs the city’s bus services – said: “We are committed to delivering safe, secure, reliable and accessible transport for all of our customers and we worked hard to keep Glasgow moving during the games.
“Our fleet is fully accessible and we are not aware of any issues that might have given wheelchair-users cause to complain about their experience of travelling on our buses during the games.
“We would urge any customer who uses a wheelchair and experienced difficulty to contact us directly so that we can investigate.”
7 August 2014
News provided by John Pring at www.disabilitynewsservice.com