Cox makes Paralympic history


October 27, 2015
Sheldon Cox
@Normal:Jamaica's Alphanso Cunningham in the discus event at the Beijing Paralympic Games in 2008.

Paralympian Sheldon Cox made history on Sunday when he became the first Jamaican athlete to participate in wheelchair racing at an international games.

Cox was in semi-final three but was unable to match the speed and experience of other competitors and failed to progress to the final.

Introduced to the sport just over two months ago, and his training hampered severely by the late arrival of his chair in Doha from Kingston owing to airline delays, Cox's back was against the wall but he was not discouraged:

"I realistically was not expecting a place in the final. I am new to the sport. I know that come next year it will be a different ball game," he said.

changed judging

Meanwhile, Alphanso 'The Ambassador' Cunningham in the javelin, fell victim, as some other athletes have, to the changed judging system of the International Paralympic Committee, which has removed from the discus, shot put and javelin competitions from the Raza system of a performance based allocation of points for classes of disabilities and implemented a placement system based exclusively on the measured distances.

This has proved to be inequitable particularly where classes of athletes of differing disabilities have been merged as in Cunningham's case.

Cunningham, an F53 athlete in his events, has been pitted against F54 athletes who are physically bigger and stronger and therefore more capable of throwing further distances. He is consequently at a distinct disadvantage.

Countries have raised strong objections to the system and some athletes have elected not to participate in their customary events given the inequity.

Jamaica Paralympic Committee president, Christopher Samuda, said: "The IPC will have to go back to the drawing board as this is untenable and discourages athletes to give of their best in a sport movement the vision of which is to enable para-athletes to achieve sporting excellence and inspire and excite the world."

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