Germany, August 25, 2012: The International Paralympic Committee (IPC) has announced the five individuals who will be inducted into the Visa Paralympic Hall of Fame during the London 2012 Paralympic Games.
Athletes Chris Holmes, Trischa Zorn, Louise Sauvage and Roberto Marson – who have 100 Paralympic medals between them – will be inducted on 30 August, along with Paralympian turned coach Frank Ponta.
Launched in 2006, by founding partner Visa, the Paralympic Hall of Fame aims to recognise retired athletes and coaches who have a track record of excellent athletic performance, history of fair play and participation in community activities.
With this month’s induction coinciding with the London 2012 Paralympic Games, only athletes and coaches involved in summer sports were considered.
IPC President Sir Philip Craven said: “I would like to congratulate all five new inductees to the Visa Paralympic Hall of Fame, they are all worthy of their place in the history books.
“The Visa Paralympic Hall of Fame is a high profile way of celebrating historical sporting achievements in the Paralympic Movement. It commemorates Paralympians and their coaches who have achieved true sporting excellence and ensures a permanent record and institutional memory is kept of their achievements.
“I’d like to thank Visa for their continued commitment of this event which is now becoming a Games time tradition.”
Kevin Burke, Global Chief Marketing Officer, Core Products of Visa Inc., said: “Visa is proud of our longtime association with the International Paralympic Committee and pleased to be the presenting sponsor of the Paralympic Hall of Fame.
“We’re looking forward to the induction ceremony in London and celebrating the commitment and achievements of the inductees as well as the spirit of sportsmanship, excellence and community embodied in the Paralympic movement.”
In regards to the inductees, Holmes, currently the Director of Paralympic Integration at LOCOG, was formerly a British swimmer who starred in the pool. In 1988, he made his debut at the Seoul Paralympic Games and in total competed in four Paralympic Games. The highlight of a distinguished career was at the Barcelona 1992 Games, when he won six gold medals and one silver. By the time he retired from swimming after the Sydney Games he had won 15 Paralympic medals including nine golds. So impressed was Queen Elizabeth II, she awarded him an MBE for his services to sport.
Zorn is the most successful Paralympian of all-time, having competed for USA’s swim team from 1980-2000. In seven Games, she won a staggering 55 medals, including 41 golds, nine silvers and five bronze. She held many world records during her career, two of which still stand today, eight years after she last competed.
Sauvage of Australia is the fourth most successful female track athlete of all-time, having won 13 medals, including nine golds. She made her Paralympic debut in Barcelona in 92 and competed in three further Games in Atlanta, Sydney and Athens. At her home Games in 2000 she won two golds and one silver medal much to the delight of the Australian fans. Since retiring she has launched a foundation which supports children with an impairment and has taken steps into coaching.
Marson, an Italian who will be inducted posthumously, excelled at three sports – Athletics, Wheelchair Fencing and Swimming – during his career which covered four Paralympic Games. Between 1964 and 1976 he won 26 medals, including 16 golds. After retiring from competition he founded two sports clubs in Rome and created and led the Italian Sport Federation for Handicapped People, which later became the Italian Disabled Sport Federation.
Ponta, a coach who started out as a highly successful Paralympian, will also be inducted posthumously after passing away in June 2011 at the age of 75 after a long illness. Between 1960 and 1976, he competed for Australia in five Paralympic Games covering several sports including basketball, pentathlon, swimming and wheelchair fencing. At the end of his competitive career he coached several medal-winning Paralympic athletes including Louise Sauvage, Priva Cooper and Madison de Rozario. He was influential in developing junior wheelchair sports in Western Australia, placing particular emphasis on sportsmanship and fair play.
The selection process this time around was slightly changed to allow the public to have their voice heard. In February, in addition to asking the 200 IPC members who they thought should be considered for induction, the public was also asked for their input via www.paralympic.org.
The IPC received hundreds of nominations from around the world and the IPC Governing Board was asked to vote on who they felt should be inducted. Athletic performance, fair play, a contribution to a team or team spirit and behaviour away from the field of play were all vital factors in the decision process. Only those who had competed in two Paralympic Games, had won medals as an athlete or coach and had not competed since the Beijing 2008 Games were considered for induction.
The Visa Paralympic Hall of Fame induction ceremony will take place on 30 August in London from 9:30-11:30.
Media wishing to attend the event or schedule an interview with the inductees should send their request to [email protected] —- IPC