News broke over the weekend that the Rio Paralympic events were facing budget cuts – travel arrangements were in jeopardy and events due to be moved to new venues, allowing for Deodoro Park to be dismantled.
For athletes for whom their performance at the 2016 Paralympic games has been their sole focus over the last four years, that news could hardly feel welcome. The culmination of all your dreams, made vulnerable by organisers who have failed to sell tickets or to budget for your events, announced less than three weeks before the opening ceremony on September 7.
Assorted solutions have been sought – vice-chairman of the British Olympic Association, Sir Hugh Robertson has suggested that the IOC (International Olympics Committee) should help the IPC (International Paralympic Committee) financially as they work with flailing Rio organisers. Other suggestions have included interested parties around the world purchasing the relatively inexpensive tickets – of which 12 per cent have been sold – and gifting them to families in Rio who can’t afford them.
We were lucky enough to catch up with decorated Paralympian, Dame Sarah Storey, to find out what she thought of the cuts and how she expected them to affect the events. Over her career, the reigning Paracycling Road World Champion has collected a grand total of 11 Gold medals in the pool and on the bike. With two weeks to go until the Games begin, now is no doubt a busy period – to say the least – but Dame Sarah still took some time to shed some light on the situation and share her views.
“The Rio Games have been fraught with challenges from the start. I was holding my breath for no further issues.”
Born without a functioning left hand, Storey has competed as a para-athlete throughout her career. She wasn’t particularly surprised to hear there were to be cuts to the Games – telling us: “Personally I am not surprised to hear of this happening. The Rio Games have been fraught with challenges from the start, most notably with the Velodrome construction and then a great many issues in getting the Paracycling Road Race courses to a standard that is suitable for a Paralympic Games. Initially the organisers just wanted what was effectively a circuit race on the seafront and even now, not all classes have a truly challenging road circuit for their events. I was holding my breath for no further issues, but if there was going to be one, it was going to be a financial one given the situation of the country.”