IPC Celebrates 25th Anniversary
Ahead of the International Paralympic Committee's (IPC) 25th anniversary on Monday (22 September), IPC President Sir Philip Craven has said people should be proud of the IPC's many achievements and stated that much more work still needs to done over the coming years to fulfill its vision.
It was on 22 September 1989 at a meeting in Düsseldorf, Germany, that the IPC was formed as the global governing body for the Paralympic Movement under the stewardship of founding President Dr. Robert Steadward OC, AOE, LLD.
Its purpose was to be `the only World Multi-Disability Organisation with the right to organise the Paralympic and Multi-Disability World Games, as well as World Championships'. Since its formation, the organisation has undergone significant changes and gone from strength-to-strength.
"In the last 25 years the IPC has been transformed from a disability organisation into one of world's most respected international sporting bodies," said Sir Philip who took over from Steadward as IPC President in 2001.
"We have developed an enviable track record for staging spectacular sporting events and increasing participation together with our members around the world. We should be really proud of our achievements.
"This success is not just down to those who work or have worked at the IPC, it is down to everyone within the Paralympic Movement. This covers thousands of dedicated individuals including volunteers and employees at National Paralympic Committees, International Federations, International Organisation of Sport for the Disabled (IOSDs), spectators, the media and partners; everyone has contributed to our success."
One major factor behind the IPC's growth has been its relationship with the IOC, which formally dates back to October 2000 when the two organisations signed a Co-operation Agreement.
Since then the relationship has grown stronger each year, and in 2012 the two signed a Partnership Agreement which not only ensures the Paralympic Games are held in the same city as the Olympic Games through to 2020 but provides greater financial security and brand protection for the Paralympic Movement.
Sir Philip said: "The first IPC-IOC Agreement signed in 2000 by Presidents Steadward and Samaranch provided rock solid foundations on which the Paralympic Movement could build.
"The Paralympics are now firmly established as part of a 60-day festival of sport alongside the Olympics. They have grown into the world's third biggest sporting event behind the Olympics and FIFA World Cup which is a stunning achievement."
Originally based in Bruges, Belgium, the IPC in its early years shared an office with the Flemish League for Sports for People with a Disability. It did not have an official headquarters until 1999 when it moved to Bonn, Germany, and started to recruit full-time staff.
Since then the organisation has grown rapidly and today the IPC employs nearly 70 full-time staff across two buildings in the former West German capital.
Still responsible for co-ordinating the organisation of the Paralympic Games, the IPC also serves as the International Federation for nine sports, for which it supervises and co-ordinates the World Championships and other competitions.
In the lead-up to the 25th anniversary, the IPC is counting down the Top 25 moments from the last quarter of a century via a special website www.ipc25.com. Each moment has been nominated by the public and voted for by the IPC Governing Board.
Although, the number one moment will be revealed on Monday to coincide with the anniversary, Sir Philip has made no secret about his favourite moments from the last 25 years.
"Although the IPC was not responsible for the Barcelona 1992 Games, they are the ones I think that got everything moving and set us on the correct path for future years. They were transformational for the whole Paralympic Movement attracting massive crowds and benefiting from live TV coverage for the first time ever.
"As a Brit, I'm particularly proud of what London 2012 delivered. They were the best Paralympic Games on so many levels and I was delighted that Sochi 2014 built on that success with equally successful winter Games earlier this year."
Sir Philip, a five-time Paralympian who represented Great Britain at wheelchair basketball, has also picked out two athletes for delivering memorable moments from the last 25 years.
"If I was to pick one single sporting moment, it would definitely have to be Jonnie Peacock's 100m T44 win at London 2012," explained Sir Philip who is serving his fourth and final term as IPC President.
"To hear 80,000 people chant one athlete's name was extraordinary. But to see him silence the crowd, cope with the pressure and storm to gold less than 11 seconds later was unbelievable. It wasn't just a great Paralympic moment but one of the best sporting moments ever!
"As a wheelchair basketball player, my favourite athlete of the last 25 years has to be Canada's Patrick Anderson. He's one of the best players to ever play the sport; an immense presence on the court. Because he plays a team sport, where you can only win one medal at one Games, he has not received the plaudits he deserves."
In early October, the IPC will celebrate its silver jubilee with a special gala dinner in Berlin, Germany, which will bring together hundreds of members and special guests who have played a pivotal role in the IPC's success.
Either side of the dinner, between 3-5 October, the IPC will also host a strategic conference involving both IPC members and other key interested parties from the wider Paralympic Movement in order to advise on the movement's future direction.
Sir Philip said: "Whilst it is important that we celebrate our landmark anniversary together with those who have contributed towards our success, it is even more important to look ahead to the future and where we want the IPC and the Paralympic Movement to go over the next 25 years.
"The Paralympic Movement is enjoying a prolonged growth spurt at the moment but we must not sit back and kick our heels. In Berlin we will consider our next 25 years and it's a real opportunity for all interested parties to meet together and talk over the opportunities for the future.
"Our relationship with the IOC, commercial partners and broadcasters has never been stronger and we must use what we have achieved over the last 25 years as a platform for future growth.
"The Paralympic vision is `to enable Paralympic athletes to achieve sporting excellence and inspire and excite the world'. Over the coming years I want us to inspire and excite the whole world."
The IPC now boasts over 200 members made up of National Paralympic Committees, International Federations, IOSDs, and Regional Organisations. The next Paralympic Games will be held in Rio de Janeiro between 7-18 September 2016.