A former Paralympic discus world record holder is seeing his hard work pay off, having been central to the planning of the London Paralympic Games for the past seven years.
As the long-time chair of WheelPower, Kevan Baker, who won Paralympic bronze medals in Barcelona and Atlanta in 1992 and 1996 respectively, has put years of effort into making the London 2012 Games the best in history.
Kevan, who was awarded an OBE for services to disabled sport last year, is now set to discuss the Paralympic legacy and how sport can help to rehabilitate those with spinal injuries with Government officials this week.
The 53-year-old, who lives in Tingley, said: “I don’t believe the London 2012 Paralympics will be surpassed in my lifetime, I know for a fact already that Rio are very concerned.”
Kevan was left paralysed from the waist down after breaking his back in a car accident on the M18 in 1979.
He said: “Being told you’re never going to walk again is quite a personal trauma but I’m not too big of a man to say you have a bit of a cry on your own and it is difficult to get through those early days.”
Following his accident he spent nearly a year at Pinderfields Hospital, in Wakefield, and came across athletes training for the 1980 Arnhem Paralympics during his time there.
After being discharged he finished a degree in computer science and got a job in Sheffield, before working in York, and through training at Pinderfields discovered he had an aptitude for discus throwing.
He finished eighth in the 1984 Stoke Mandeville Paralympics, before competing in Seoul, South Korea, four years later in front of 120,000-strong crowds.
He said: “We had never tasted that before as at that time Paralympic athletes were considered the second tier.”
By 1996 Kevan had retired, having been to four Paralympics and won two bronze medals and broken the discus world record four times – his 38.80m throw is still the British record.
Having chaired WheelPower, which governs UK wheelchair sport, for 17 years he helped secure £7m to refurbish Stoke Mandeville Stadium.