As the nation was gripped with action from the 16th Paralympic Games in Tokyo, DSR recently sat down with our founder and Wheelchair Basketball icon, Kevin Coombs who competed at many Paralympic Games including the very first in Rome in 1960.
The Paralympics has come a long way since the first games in Rome, the selection process has become a lot stricter, “In those days you had to play in different sports to be selected, because they wouldn’t take anyone away for one event.”
Kevin also recalled that the first Paralympics weren’t as well prepared to accommodate athletes as they are today, “measures weren’t really in place for disabled athletes back then, transportation to and from our rooms were a lot different, especially when it comes to buildings being accessible. But, overall it was a fantastic experience”.
Another part of the games which has changed is the significant media coverage that it receives, “the attention that the games have now is incredible and it’s fantastic to see the variety of sports now at the Tokyo Paralympics, it’s great to see so many athletes competing now and people becoming more active at a grassroots level”.
Kevin also revealed that he was invited to speak with Australia’s largest overseas Paralympic team of roughly 179 athletes just hours before the opening ceremony and his message was pretty simple, “enjoy the experience and soak it in”.
“Life’s all about progression,” Kevin told us. “I’m proud to see where we’ve come from”
When asked which sport he was most looking forward to watching, there was no surprises, “Wheelchair Basketball”.
There is plenty to be proud of as well, in his fifth and final Paralympic Games Kevin came off the bench to score 19 points! A remarkable effort by Australia’s first Indigenous Paralympian and founding member of Disability Sport & Recreation (DSR).
When it comes to Kevin’s involvement in founding DSR, he stated: “I’m proud that we’ve helped so many Victorians and athletes achieve their dream of competing.”
Looking to get active? Disability Sport & Recreation has a free NDIS Sports Guide to help you get prepared. If you’re looking for fun and inclusive activities, you can start by using the search engine at the Access for All Abilities website.
If you want to know more about Kevin and what he has done for Australian athletes, we have a dedicated page listing his achievements.