This film is part of Free

The Wheelchair Olympians

With the Paralympics even more marginalised than today, these athletes show great determination, dedication, camaraderie and humility.

Documentary 1983 25 mins

From the collection of:

Logo for Yorkshire Film Archive


This Calendar Special shows the British Paraplegic Athletic Squad in 1984 in training at Cleckheaton athletics track for the national championships later that year at Stoke Mandeville. The programme focuses on the wheelchair competitors – among them Kevin McNicholas, Paul Cartwright, Mark Agar and Dorothy Ripley – who speak about how they got involved in athletics, what motivates them and how they feel about their relative low status compared to abled bodied athletes.

The first Paralympic Games were held in Rome in 1960. The track events for the 1984 Summer Paralympics were meant to have taken place at the University of Illinois, which the athletes were looking forward to, but three months prior to the opening the University terminated their contract to hold the Games, and it was held at Stoke Mandeville instead. Paul Cartwright was later to talk of his delight in reaching the final, where he came 5th. Moira Gallagher, the national track coach, went on to have a highly successful career in the sport, and was named as a winner of the European Athletics Women’s Leadership Award in 2013. Mark Agar also went on to have a great career playing basketball and tennis.