Britain’s Paralympians should have received more honours in the Queen’s New Year’s list, according to the former sports minister Gerry Sutcliffe, who said an opportunity has been missed by overlooking athletes, some of whose gold medal tallies are into double figures after a successful Games.
The comments follow the revelations in the Independent on Sunday that leading Paralympians were disappointed at what they called the double standards which saw all but one Paralympian passed over for the top honours.
Only cyclist Sarah Storey was given the highest award of a dame or knighthood.
“If you remember, at the start of the year there was confusion over whether the Olympians and Paralympians would get honours; the committee said it was unlikely. We managed to get them to change their mind and have a separate category for Olympians and Paralympians,” said Mr Sutcliffe.
Speaking to BBC Radio 4's The World This Weekend, he added: “There was an opportunity to be consistent and if you look at his record over several Olympics I think the least he should have got is a knighthood.
“Because the whole purpose of the Games was to inspire a generation - and how better to inspire a generation of Paralympians than to give somebody a knighthood?”
Dressage rider Lee Pearson OBE told The Independent on Sunday this week that he was “disappointed” at not being awarded a knighthood despite a haul of 10 gold medals. He said: “It’s the discrepancy that pisses me off.
“Obviously, 10 gold, one silver and one bronze just isn’t enough. I’m disappointed because I do feel I’ve given a lot to Paralympic sport and equestrianism. I think 10 gold medals is quite an achievement.”
Wheelchair racer David Weir, who has won six gold medals added: “It’s a weird one, how they choose it. Sometimes it seems that Paralympians have to win lots and lots of medals to get a damehood or a knighthood.
“Kelly Holmes was made a dame when she won two gold medals, but it seems we have to get into double figures to get it. Sarah Storey should have been awarded this years ago. I feel that sometimes we are left out, perhaps because we are not in the public eye. It is a bit strange, but I am just honoured to get anything from the Queen for doing a sport I love,” he told the Daily Telegraph.