This Steadward Talks conversation will examine the history of the demonstration wheelchair events in the Olympic Games

About this event

This Steadward Talks conversation will examine the history of the demonstration wheelchair events in the Olympic Games, how this ended and how events like the marathon as an inclusive sport could potentially bridge the Olympic Games and the Paralympic Games in the future. Anne Merklinger, Patrick Jarvis, Sharon Hedrick and Candace Cable will join as speakers.

Anne Merklinger was the Executive Director for the Commission for Inclusion of Athletes with a Disability (CIAD) from 1990-1994. This Commission designed and implemented global lobbying strategies for the inclusion of events for athletes with a disability in major national and international sport competitions including the demonstration events in the Olympic Games. Anne was also the Executive Director of the Canadian Federation of Sport Organizations for the Disabled from 1984-1990, which was the precursor to the Canadian Paralympic Committee.

Patrick Jarvis is a Paralympian (Barcelona,1992 – athletics) and has been involved with Canadian Paralympic sport as a volunteer since 1987, including 13 years on the Canadian Paralympic Committee (CPC) Board, serving seven years as the CPC President, followed by three elected terms (twelve years) on the International Paralympic Committee (IPC) Governing Board. It was during his tenure as CPC president that the wheelchair “exhibition” events for athletes with a disability became an impassioned sport-political issue that he took umbrage with, manifested in a letter submitted to the president of the International Olympic Committee (IOC).

Sharon Hedrick competed in the 800 meter wheelchair demonstration event at the 1984 and 1988 Olympics, winning both events. She attended the University of Illinois, where she started playing wheelchair basketball, and many of her sports honors were won in that sport. Hedrick was the first female wheelchair competitor at the Boston Marathon, in 1977. She would win 10 medals and 5 gold medals at the Paralympics between 1976 and 1992, with a full set of medals (gold-silver-bronze) in wheelchair basketball, and the rest in wheelchair track events. She also won a gold medal at the 1980 Wheelchair Basketball World Championship.

Candace Cable competed at the 1984, 1988, and 1992 Olympics in the women’s 800 metre wheelchair demonstration event. Cable competed nine times at the Paralympics, winning 12 medals, including 8 gold medals. She also competed at five Paralympic Winter Games. She won the Boston Marathon in 1981-82 and 1985-88, and won the first four Los Angeles Marathons in the wheelchair division. In all she won 84 marathons during her racing career.

 The Steadward Talks are co-hosted by the International Federation of Adapted Physical Activity and Disability in Sport International. The talks are conversations with global leaders that examine the origins and future of inclusion in sport, focusing specifically on athletes with a disability.

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