Ian Collins is Leading Britain's Conversation.
22 August 2016, 17:35
As budget cuts threaten the scale and success of the Paralympic Games in Rio de Janeiro, Shelagh Fogarty says she’s been struck by the lack of public reaction.
The games are facing major cutbacks in a number of areas, with concerns that serious delays to the payment of travel grants will see 10 teams struggle to get to Brazil.
Shelagh says there have been efforts by the International Olympic Committee and the International Paralympic Committee to get around the failure to get travel grants to athletes, among other issues.
"[But] I think they’re going to have to accept that it will be downgraded Paralympics compared to 2012.
"I’ve been struck by how unbothered an awful lot of people seem to be about this, and I just don’t think that’s good enough.
"Could it be that it’s simply the sad case that we still see disabled people - disabled athletes - as second class citizens?"
Paralympic cyclist John-Allan Butterworth says the team does play second fiddle to the Olympians, meaning the budget cuts come as an extra blow.
He says the London Paralympics in 2012 showed what the games could be, with spectators turning out in record numbers and broadcasters showing more than they had in the past.
But despite the support they received then, he told Shelagh they’re still seen as pseudo-athletes when placed next to their Olympic counterparts.
"The able-bodied athletes go around at 80 kilometres an hour in the kilo racing, we’re still hitting speeds of 72 or 73 (km/h), but I’m doing it with one hand.
"I’m pretty sure most people would not be able to do that, or they’d find it very difficult.”