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Ask a Paralympian (exclusive Q&A)

cpchriscpchris Posts: 14Member
edited September 2016 in Guest Q&As
My name's Chris Channon and I competed in the 1980 and 1984 Paralympic Games, winning a Silver medal in shooting.

Over the next week I'll be answering your questions about the Paralympic Games, my experiences of competing in them and anything else relating to disability sport.To ask me a question, simply type it into the comment box below, and I'll reply in due course.


A little more about myself: I was born with athletoid cerebral palsy and I've always had an interest in sport - particularly shooting and team sports like football, hockey and volleyball. I competed in the 1980 & 1984 Paralympics and won a silver medal in shooting. Away from the sports arena I have taken part in two overland expeditions to the Outer Hebrides and Morocco. 

In 1994, I suffered a spinal injury and spent 6 months in hospital and 2 years in rehab. I managed to get back to living independently but my involvement in sport was well and truly over! 

Unable to find worthwhile employment, I worked as a volunteer for schools and other organisations and in 2001 received an MBE for 'Services to the Community'. Later, after experiencing problems making 999 calls to the police, I came up with 'Pegasus', an emergency call system which makes calling 999 more accessible to disabled people by providing them with a pin number which relays important information about them and their disability to the call handler.

I look forward to your questions!

Replies

  • Chris_ScopeChris_Scope Posts: 695Member Chatterbox
    edited September 2016
    @cpchris -  Firstly, thank you very much for taking the time to do this. I'll kick this off with a perhaps obvious question: What was it like to win a silver medal in the Paralympics? What sticks out in your memory from that day?
  • cpchriscpchris Posts: 14Member
    edited September 2016
    @Chris_Scope - As I recall - it was 32 years ago! - a whole range of emotions. 
    But the main one was relief - relief that I had won something and that I wasn't going to go home empty handed. 
    Also a sense of pride in winning a medal in my chosen sport of shooting. I had won club competitions - but nothing beyond that. 

  • abstractLucasabstractLucas Posts: 79Member Whisperer
    Hi Chris, thanks for opening yourself up like this!  I'm interested in your thoughts about the current Paralympics compared to your own experience - do you think there is more recognition, support and appreciation now for disabled athletes than there was when you competed?
    Lucas
  • cpchriscpchris Posts: 14Member
    edited September 2016
    @abstractLucas Hi Lucas,, good to hear from you. 
    The short answer to your question is 'Yes!' on every level!
    I thought the 1980 & 1984 games were big - but they were a garden tea party compared to what is happening now in Rio. 
    That said, you have to start somewhere - so today's Games are built upon the success and participation of yesterday's Paralympians like me. 
    Today's Paralympians are better funded, better prepared, better supported  than those of my era. 
    To give you an example, I was selected for the 1980 games after breaking the British national record in the 60 metre run 9 months before the start of the 1980 games and only received some very rudimentary coaching. 
    I suddenly found myself competing  in front of thousands of people without really knowing how to deal with the situation. 
    I reached the final and missed a bronze medal by 0.24 of a second!
    Im happy because I did my best on the day - but I cannot help wondering what would've happened had I received the support that's available today!
  • NoahNoah Posts: 430Member Chatterbox
    @cpchris, Great to have you on the Community - thank you for taking the time to share your experience.

    What would you say are the two most important things for being a successful athlete and competing in the Paralympics? 

    What advice would you give to a disabled person who wants to get more involved sport/fitness classes but finds that local classes are not accessible or geared up for individuals with disabilities?

    Do you know what percentage of athletes have CP?

    Noah

  • cpchriscpchris Posts: 14Member
    edited September 2016
    @Noah Hi Noah,
    First, in my view the two most important things are total commitment and complete self-belief. 
    Second, there are disability sports clubs throughout the UK - you can ask your local council for details or you can try Parasport which has a online search facility for people to find clubs in their area.
    If that doesn't work then make enquiries with a mainstream club that caters for your specific sport  - they can be surprisingly helpful.  
    I joined a local shooting club in 1975. I was the only disabled person in the club but they helped and encouraged me because they could see that I had a genuine passion for target shooting.
    I'm afraid I don't know offhand how many (of the Rio team?) have CP but it will be a fair percentage. 
    Incidently, the 1980 games were the first Paralympics to allow athletes with CP to compete. 

  • NoahNoah Posts: 430Member Chatterbox
    Thanks Chris, a very helpful response - hopefully this years paralympics will continue to inspire more people with disabilities, to get involved in sport and see the difference it can make to their lives.

    Its so positive that your shooting club were so helpful and could see your potential, I'm sure there are many other very similar experiences.

    That's most interesting that they only allowed people with CP to take part some 30 years after the paralympics were founded, as it seems to me that people with CP can make very good athletes.


  • quinrahquinrah Posts: 24Member Talkative

    HI @cpchris

    I was wondering whether there were any particular role models or inspirations who inspired you to compete?

    Congrats on the amazing achievement of winning a medal!

  • cpchriscpchris Posts: 14Member
    @quinrah Hi quinrah, good to hear from you and thanks!
    I didn't really have anyone that inspired me because it was before the media became interested - so it was almost impossible to know what othesr were achieving. 
    My main driving force was my interest in sport and a refusal to allow my disability to get the better of me!
    However, when I was with the GB team or watching other competitors compete I met many inspiring people. 
    One such person was Arnie Boldt, a Canadian amputee high jumper who I had the honour to witness set a world record of 1.98 metres in the 1980 Gamee. 
    Amazing!
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