Sir Philip Craven MBE, one of the Paralympic movement’s greatest pioneers, received the Lifetime Achievement Award sponsored by Monitor Quest at the Sport Industry Awards ceremony on May 2 in recognition of his decades of dedication to sport.
The president of the International Paralympic Committee received the award from his former teammate, Armand ‘Tip’ Thiboutot, and NBA legend John Amaechi to a standing ovation from an audience of 1,750 key figures from across the entire spectrum of British and European sport.
Sir Philip has served as the President of the IPC since his election in 2001.
During that time he has led the development of both the Paralympic movement and the IPC itself in the ‘One Bid, One City’ era of Olympic and Paralympic cooperation, striving to ensure that the Paralympic Games fulfil their role as an equal partner to the Olympic Games.
As part of that ongoing achievement, he has served as an International Olympic Committee and British Olympic Association member since 2003 and on the board of LOCOG since 2005.
The Bolton-born athlete made his Paralympic Games debut in 1972 competing in two sports - swimming and wheelchair basketball - and went on to represent Great Britain at wheelchair basketball at a further four Paralympic Games between 1976 and 1988.
Even before the end of his own competitive career, he had played a crucial role in the development of Paralympic sport, campaigning for the introduction of a new classification system in wheelchair basketball that would no longer force athletes to depend on medical examinations.
Adopted in 1982, the new classification system has since seen wheelchair basketball develop into one of the Paralympic movement’s flagship sports, with crowds and TV audiences continually on the rise.
In 1988 Sir Philip was named chairman of Wheelchair Basketball at the International Stoke Mandeville Games Federation, the former governing body of Paralympic sport.
His fierce campaign for self determination in the role was vital to the 1993 creation of the International Wheelchair Basketball Federation, and he served as the organisation’s first president until 1998.
He was then named the IPC’s second president in 2001. During his time as IPC president, the Paralympic Movement has enjoyed significant growth and now boasts over 200 members, including 174 National Paralympic Committees across the globe.
As an athlete, among a host of medals and honours, he helped Great Britain win the Wheelchair Basketball World Championship in 1973 and played a key role as his team secured European gold in 1971 and 1974 and Commonwealth gold in 1970.
He was awarded an MBE in 1991 for services to wheelchair basketball and knighted in 2005.
Presenting the award, Tip Thiboutot told the room: “Wheelchair basketball was ?rst played in 1946 by World War II veterans with spinal cord injuries, primarily for rehabilitation purposes.
“It soon caught on and, bizarrely, before long the same physicians who had encouraged veterans to play the sport were trying to stop them, as they felt the sport was becoming too physical.
“Some even suggested lowering the baskets to make the sport easier. The veterans refused.
“By continuing to play the sport they invented, those veterans gave birth to the concept of self determination through sport for individuals with physical impairments. Sir Philip Craven is today the living symbol of self determination through sport.
“It is the sign of an exceptional individual when you consider that even though Sir Philip has been identified as one of the five greatest wheelchair basketball players in the history of the sport, he is now better known for his actions off the court.
“By his words, by his actions and as a result of the astounding achievements of athletes he has encouraged, he has succeeded in diminishing the negative implications of the expression ‘the disabled’.
“He has stated that: ‘Disabled is a negative word invented by others to marginalise a group of people.’ That is rehabilitation, not only for athletes and individuals with impairments, but also for those individuals who are not impaired.
“Sir Philip Craven has not, and will never, lower the baskets.”
Sir Philip Craven commented: “This award is recognition of where the Paralympic movement has come, particularly during the last 10 years.
“As Tip Thiboutot kindly said, I’ve worked very hard to get rid of that ‘D-word’ - it’s not disabled sport, it’s sport.
“Sport is for everybody - whether Paralympic sport or Olympic sport. And if this is a recognition of that, I’m happy.
“It makes me feel even younger than I did before and I’m just looking forward to seeing what we can achieve in the next 10 or 20 years.”
The full list of Sport Industry Awards 2012 winners:
Best Sponsorship of a Sport Team or Individual
Sponsored by Nolan Partners
Winner: British Airways - Team GB: ‘They Will Fly’
Sport Participation Event of the Year
Winner: Manchester’s Great Day of Sport
Best Use of Digital Communications in Sport
Sponsored by Late Night London
Winner: NIVEA FOR MEN - The Great Football Experiment
The Community Programme Award
Winner: Premiership Rugby - HITZ Project
Best Sponsorship of a Sport Event or Competition
Sponsored by Icon
Winner: NatWest - The NatWest Cricket Club
Sport Website of the Year
Winner: Manchester City Football Club
Best International Sport Marketing Campaign
Sponsored by Battersea Evolution
Winner: Castrol EDGE - Castrol EDGE Presents ‘Ronaldo Tested to the Limit’
Best TV Sport Commercial
Sponsored by Eurosport
Winner: O2 - O2 ‘Get up for England’
Best Use of PR in a Sport Campaign
Sponsored by Action Images
Winner: Betfair - Trash Your Tevez Shirt
Sport Brand of the Year
Sponsored by Pinsent Masons
Winner: Sky Sports
Best Integrated Sport Marketing Campaign
Winner: O2 - O2 ‘Get Up for England’
Sport Governing Body of the Year
Sponsored by The Daily Telegraph
Winner: British Triathlon
Sport Agency of the Year
Sponsored by Colouration
Winner: M&C Saatchi Sport & Entertainment
Lifetime Achievement Award
Sponsored by Monitor Quest
Winner: Sir Philip Craven MBE
The Kantar Media Sport Business Achievement of the Year Award
Winner: The Olympic Delivery Authority