New Year"s Honours List: Anger of Paralympians at lesser awards

Honours list is biased against us, Paralympic stars argue after they got lesser awards than Olympians
Paralympian Lee Pearson OBE not knighted despite winning more golds than Sir Bradley Wiggins and Sir Ben Ainslie put togetherDavid Weir: 'Sarah Storey should have been awarded knighthood years ago'

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UPDATED:

07:48 GMT, 31 December 2012

Paralympians and politicians have accused the honours system of favouring able-bodied athletes over their disabled teammates.

Equestrian star Lee Pearson has led
criticism, saying he was ‘disappointed’ not to be getting a knighthood
after winning his tenth Paralympic gold medal this summer.

Other Paralympians vented their
frustration and a former sports minister said the honours committee had
made a ‘big mistake’ in not giving them more recognition.

Paralympian Lee Pearson CBE

Paralympian Lee Pearson CBE won more golds than Sir Bradley Wiggins and Sir Ben Ainslie put together yet missed out on a knighthood

Pearson, who was born with
arthrogryposis multiplex congenita, a rare disorder which means limbs do
not develop properly, was awarded a CBE in 2009, after winning three
golds in three consecutive Games, but missed out on the top award in
last week’s announcement.

He said: ‘It’s the discrepancy that p***** me off. Obviously, ten golds, one silver and one bronze just isn’t enough.

‘I’m disappointed because I do feel
I’ve given a lot to Paralympic sport and equestrianism. I think ten gold
medals is quite an achievement.’

Last night Paralympic swimmer and cyclist Jody Cundy came out in support of Pearson.

He said: ‘You can understand how Lee
feels. I’ve won five gold medals but only got an MBE. Now there are
athletes who have got a CBE after winning just one gold in 2012.’

It comes after Tour de France winner
Bradley Wiggins and sailor Ben Ainslie, who each have four gold medals,
were given the top award of knighthoods.

Bradley Wiggins

Ben Ainslie

Sir Bradley Wiggins (left) and Ben Ainslie (right) have both been knighted

Cyclist Sarah Storey

Dame Kelly Holmes

Paralympian Dame Sarah Storey (left) was knighted only this year after winning 11 gold medals, eight silver and three bronzes since 1992, compared to Olympian Dame Kelly Holmes (right) who was knighted after two golds

Paralympian David Weir

Paralympian David Weir wonders whether they are overlooked because they are not in the public eye

The only Paralympian to get the top
honour in the New Year Honours list was Sarah Storey, who will be made a
Dame after winning 11 gold medals in swimming and cycling.

Yesterday, Labour MP and former sports
minister Gerry Sutcliffe said it was a ‘big mistake’ not to have
recognised more Paralympic athletes, such as wheelchair athlete David
Weir, who has six gold medals.

Mr Sutcliffe said: ‘There was an
opportunity to be consistent and if you look at his record over several
Olympics I think the least he should have got is a knighthood.

Because
the whole purpose of the Games was to inspire a generation – and how
better to inspire a generation of Paralympians than to give somebody a
knighthood’

Meanwhile, Paralympic sprint gold
medallist Jonnie Peacock, who was awarded an MBE, wrote on social
networking site Twitter: ‘Has to be said though, how much more does
[David Weir] have to do to get a knighting!’

The 2013 list was drawn up by the
Sports Honours Committee, which was chaired by Lord Coe and included
former Paralympian Tanni Grey-Thompson.

Baroness Grey-Thompson said: ‘I don’t think you can compare the Olympics and Paralympics.

‘The honours system is the fairest it’s ever been in terms of the number of Paralympians winning awards.’

OLYMPIC ATHLETES HONOURED

Knighthood
Ben Ainslie, sailing
David Brailsford, performance director, British Cycling
David Tanner, performance director, British Rowing
Bradley Wiggins, cycling

CBE
Kath Grainger, rowing
Jessica Ennis, athletics
Mo Farah, athletics
Victoria Pendleton, cycling

OBE
Charlotte Dujardin, equestrian
Jason Kenny, cycling
Andy Murray, tennis
Laura Trott, cycling

MBE
Nicola Adams, boxing
Tim Baillie, canoeing
Laura Bechtolsheimer, equestrian
Scott Brash, equestrian
Alistair Brownlee, triathlon
Steven Burke, cycling
Luke Campbell, boxing
Peter Charles, equestrian
Katherine Copeland, rowing
Helen Glover, rowing
Alex Gregory, rowing
Carl Hester, equestrian
Philip Hindes, cycling
Sophie Hosking, rowing
Jade Jones, taekwondo
Anthony Joshua, boxing
Peter Kennaugh, cycling
Dani King, cycling
Mary King, equestrian
Ben Maher, equestrian
Ed McKeever, canoeing
Joanna Rowsell, cycling
Greg Rutherford, athletics
Louis Smith, gymnastics
Heather Stanning, rowing
Etienne Stott, canoeing
Anna Watkins, rowing
Peter Wilson, shooting

PARALYMPIANS HONOURED

Knighthood

Sarah Storey, cycling

CBE
David Weir, athletics

OBE
Sophie Christiansen, equestrian
Ellie Simmonds, swimming

MBE
Jessica-Jane Applegate, athletics
Natasha Baker, equestrian
Danielle Brown, archery
Mickey Bushell, athletics
Hannah Cockroft, athletics
Mark Colbourne, cycling
Josef Craig, swimming
Deborah Criddle, equestrian
Aled Davies, athletics
Neil Fachie, cycling
Jonathan Fox, swimming
Heather Frederiksen, swimming
Oliver Hynd, swimming
Helena Lucas, sailing
Craig MacLean, cycling
Nigel Murray, boccia
Jonnie Peacock, athletics
Josie Pearson, athletics
Pam Relph, rowing
Naomi Riches, rowing
James Roe, rowing
David Smith, rowing
Lily van den Broecke, rowing
Sophie Wells, equestrian
Richard Whitehead, athletics

ORDER OF THE COMPANIONS OF HONOUR
Baron Coe CH, Chair, LOCOG

ORDER OF THE BATH
Jeremy Beeton CB, Director-General, Government Olympic Executive