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Teen not disabled enough to be Paralympian

Oscar Knight
Oscar Knight Image credit:

You may think being in a wheelchair and being a professional sportsperson would automatically qualify you the Paralympics, but as Oscar Knight recently found out, that isn’t the case.

The 17-year-old had his hopes competing in Team GB’s wheelchair basketball team, however new guidelines were introduced he has been told he’s not disabled enough to sign up.

Not only does he rely on his chair on a daily basis, the lad also lives with hypermobility syndrome, but it still doesn’t mean he can become a Paralympian.

The teenager from Kingsbridge, Devon, said he is considering cutting off a leg so he can for fill his lifetime ambition after eight years of training.

He currently plays for the Plymouth Raiders where he was chosen for the GB Academy, Oscar has also captained an under 22 team in a game against Spain.

Knight’s bold statement is similar to Team GB wheelchair basketball player George Bates who recently revealed he has thought about having a leg amputated so he can qualify for Tokyo’s 2021 Paralympic Games.

Oscar said: ‘I woke up one morning and I couldn’t put my feet on the ground without being in pain.

‘That condition has deteriorated over time and although I was able to walk with the aid of crutches initially, I now use a wheelchair all the time as I’m unable to walk or bear my own weight. I was always into sport and would play football at primary school every chance I had. But since being diagnosed with CRPS, I have fallen in love with wheelchair basketball.’

The change was brought in by the International Paralympic Committee (IPC) which told the Wheelchair basketball’s governing body, IWBF, its need to renew their classifications as a number of conditions which ‘primarily cause pain’ are ‘non-eligible impairments.’

Knight said: ‘To be told that I don’t have the right kind of disability is absurd.

‘I’m in a wheelchair and I’m in constant pain and for someone to say that I’m not disabled enough is just discriminatory.

‘Amputating a leg just so that you can follow your chosen sport may seem a drastic measure, but it’s one which I may have to consider.’

His mum, Natasha, said: ‘It is crazy that the IPC – which attempts to base its brand around equality and inclusivity – is deliberately discriminating against athletes who don’t meet its narrow-minded view of what it means to be disabled.

‘Oscar has dedicated his life to wheelchair basketball and to have his dream snatched away is another blow to a teenager who has a life of disability ahead of him.

‘How can athletes be excluded from the only sports they are physically able to play?’

The IPC said: ‘All Paralympic sport is governed by the code, which was approved by the IPC’s 200-plus members in 2015. We have been working with all international federations to ensure they fully implement and abide by the rules of the code.’

Wheelchair basketball was introduced to the Paralympics in 1960 when the games were played in Rome.