Simmonds praises parasports integration at Comm Games
BIRMINGHAM, England (AP) — Hosting the Commonwealth Games in tandem with its largest Paralympic sports program has been a success and should be adopted at other major events, five-time Paralympic gold medalist Ellie said on Friday. Simmonds.
The big swimmer doesn’t want the model to be used in the Olympics because the Paralympics are a big enough event to stand on their own on the world stage.
This year’s Commonwealth Games in Birmingham – the largest integrated multi-sport event – have sold more than 1.4 million tickets so far, including Para-swimming and athletics.
“He just came in…and people loved him, not just in stadiums but on TV,” Simmonds said. “I would love to see him at future Commonwealth Games and also at the world championships. (Even among) Europeans. It would be absolutely amazing.
“But I think the Olympics and Paralympics are different. The Paralympics are one of the biggest sporting events in their own right.
Simmonds, 27, a Birmingham Games board member, said the successful integration was partly due to fewer seedings for the event.
She said it was important that a wider range of athletes had the opportunity to compete, which is why she believes stand-alone Paralympics should remain in place.
“With the Paralympic Games, we want to celebrate that. It’s been an incredible 10 days of competition with all types of rankings,” said Simmonds. “The integration into the Commonwealth Games is incredible. (But) that wouldn’t be logistically possible. I think with all the classifications, if this was included in the Olympics, that would mean the Olympics would go on for months.
The importance of inclusion and diversity was at the center of the Birmingham Games, which wrap up on Monday.
England diver Tom Daley, who was among the last pole bearers at the opening ceremony, used his platform to deliver a message about the intolerance towards LGBT communities shown by more than half of the nations competing at the Games of the Commonwealth.
Women’s rights have been in the spotlight, including in countries where women are discouraged from competing after marriage. Ama Agbeze, who led England to netball gold on the Gold Coast in 2018, hopes the Commonwealth Games can have a positive influence in places like the Pacific island nations, where she has traveled to course of his career.
“It’s definitely a problem they face (over there),” Agbeze said. “But I think, more and more, that’s changing…People are starting to look up to them and realizing that they’re going somewhere and they can put our country on the map. And so things are slowly starting to to change.
“It may not be in their generation. But for future generations, I think change will start to happen. We are always fighting for equality and the more we jump up and down, and the louder we shout, hopefully the faster we progress. Hopefully this will happen worldwide.
Agbeze, also a Birmingham board member, said the discussion should be respectful.
“Obviously we have our own culture here and we expect people to come here and embrace our culture,” she said. “So I think it’s about acknowledging someone’s culture and then basically showing them their options and saying, ‘That’s another option. Maybe you can kiss him.
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