Almost 16 years after becoming International Paralympic Committee (IPC) President, Sir Philip Craven will step down from his role on Friday (8 September) after transforming the Paralympic Movement beyond all recognition.
First elected in Athens, Greece, in December 2001, the 67-year-old British five-time Paralympian has, in his own words, transformed the Paralympic Movement’s global governing body from a “disability sports organisation to one of the most highly respected sports organisations in the world.”
Under Sir Philip’s watch, the IPC has developed a reputation for strong governance and integrity, growing Para sport globally and staging sport events that transform and enrich the lives of millions of people around the world.
Thanks to the leadership of the former wheelchair basketball player, the Paralympic Games have been repositioned as a high performance sport event attracting millions of spectators and billions of TV viewers.
Hundreds more athletes and far more countries now compete in the Games while over the years athletic performance has skyrocketed across all sports. This was highlighted at the Rio 2016 Paralympic Games when Iran’s Siamand Rahman became the first powerlifter to lift over 300kg, eventually lifting 310kg. Cuban T12 sprinter Omard Durand clocked 11.40 to win 100m gold, more than a second quicker than the Sydney 2000 champion in the same event.
In terms of ticket sales, the Paralympic Games are now the world’s third biggest sport event – only the Olympics and FIFA World Cup sell more. TV audiences have grown from a cumulative 300 million for the Sydney 2000 Paralympics before Sir Philip took over to more than 4.1 billion in 154 countries for his final Games in Rio in 2016. A further one billion people also now engage with the Paralympic Movement annually via digital media.
As a result of the growth of the Paralympics during Sir Philip’s 16 years, the impact the Games have on society has significantly increased. Today, the Paralympic Games is considered the world’s number one sport event for driving social inclusion with athletic performances having a seismic impact on changing attitudes towards people with an impairment.
IWBF Secretary General, Maureen Orchard, said “Sir Philip has been instrumental in the development of paralympic sport not only at the IPC, but in his roles previous to this. He was an integral part in the formation of IWBF.
“Having worked alongside him on the IWBF Executive Committee, and eventually taking over from him when he moved over to the IPC, I had no doubt he would be very successful in the role and make a huge impact.
“Following his move to the IPC he continued to be a strong advocate of IWBF, the sport and the players. He has always attended games and Championships to show his support where possible and we hope to continue to welcome him at future events.
“On behalf of IWBF we would like to wish him all the best in his future endeavors and thank him for all his work in transforming Paralympic sport.”