Unlike the Paralympic Games and other major sporting events, the para-sport programme at the Commonwealth Games is fully integrated. This means there is no separate event or ticket for para-sport events, and a medal won by a para-athlete in the Men's T54 Wheelchair 1500m, contributes to a nation's medal tally in exactly the same way as the Men's 1500m.
Events for Athletes with a Disability were first included on the Commonwealth Games programme as an exhibition sport at at the Victoria 1994 Commonwealth Games in Canada. However, it was at the 2002 Commonwealth Games in Manchester, where para-athletes were fully integrated into their national teams, making them the first fully inclusive international multi-sport Games. A total of 20 countries sent both male and female elite para-athletes to complete in ten events in five different Para-sports (Athletics, Lawn Bowls, Swimming, Table tennis and Weightlifting). Canadian Chantal Petitclerc won the first ever para-sport medal.
Today, the sport programme of the Commonwealth Games must, at a minimum, consist of the following compulsory para-sports (disciplines) – Aquatics (Swimming Para), Athletics (Para), Lawn Bowls (Para) and Powerlifting (Para).
Gold Coast 2018
The integrated para-sport program for the Gold Coast 2018 Commonwealth Games will be the most extensive in Commonwealth Games history. There will be up to 300 para-athletes and 38 medal events across seven sports, representing an increase of 45% more athletes and 73% more medals compared to the para-sport competition staged at the Glasgow 2014 Commonwealth Games.
The GC2018 para-sport program has been developed by the CGF and GOLDOC in consultation with the International Paralympic Committee and Commonwealth Games Australia to showcase the best para-sport in the Commonwealth. The events are: Athletics, Swimming, Lawn Bowls, Powerlifting, Track Cycling, Table Tennis and Triathlon.
The Swimming and Athletics program will double in size from previous Games. Para-triathlon will make its debut at GC2018, building on the great success of the Triathlon competition in Glasgow 2014 and the sport’s increasing profile across the globe. Para-sport at GC2018 will also reach its widest ever audience as the first ever wheelchair marathon (T54) at a Commonwealth Games takes to the streets and communities of the Gold Coast as part of the free road events.
Underpinning the new proposals, the sports programme innovations in Transformation 2022, the CGF’s new strategic plan, ensures that member associations are supported and subsidised to enable them to send larger para-sport teams to GC2018 than any other Commonwealth Games.