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Paralympics lobbied to include athletes with learning disabilities

25th August 2006

Athletes with learning disabilities are fighting to be able to compete in the Paralympics.

A longstanding ban on athletes with learning disabilities is being fought to allow UK athletes to compete on their own soil.

The International Paralympics Committee (IPC) has rejected a motion to lift the ban, but with the support of Richard Caborn, the minister for culture, media and sport and the efforts of the British Paralympic Association (BPA), many are hopeful that there will be time to reverse this in advance of the 2012 London Olympics.

Richard Hudson was awarded an MBE this year for 20 years of competing at the top level in swimming. The world record-breaker, who has competed in many other championships, has been denied a place in the 2008 Paralympics because he has Down's syndrome.

Mr Hudson's father John told the newspaper Melton Today: " What's happening to Down's is discriminatory. It's denying them equal opportunities and is against their human rights."

"It is a tragedy if no matter how hard he works and how well he does, Richard is never able to compete in the Paralympics," he asserted.

"Hopefully the work we're doing will open doors in the future to get the respect and opportunities they have long been denied."

Mr Caborn has set up a meeting with the BPA and MPs in the House of Commons at the end of September.