RYLEY Batt says if it isn’t broken, don’t fix it.
Batt’s comments come after watching the success of the Commonwealth Games on the Gold Coast and suggestions of combining the Paralympic and Olympic Games events in coming years.
Many para-athletes on the Gold Coast mentioned how satisfying it was to be able to mix with the able-bodied athletes.
Port Macquarie’s 28-year-old Australian Steelers wheelchair captain loved watching a lot of the Commonwealth Games on the television.
But he said the Olympics and Paralympics and Olympics should stay as they are.
“In our eyes, it’s good to hear people want a joint Olympic Games event because that means a lot of people like to see people with disabilities being in the public eye,” he said.
“It’s a lot more acceptable these days to be in a wheelchair than it might have been years ago.
“But for myself personally, you train for four years for that one event and it is good to be recognised and to be on prime time television if you’re playing in the Paralympics.”
It’s a lot more acceptable these days to be in a wheelchair than it might have been years ago.Ryley Batt
Should the two events be combined in the one major Olympic Games event, Batt was concerned that the Paralympians would be “shuffled back.”
“I guess if the Paralympics and Olympics were together a lot of the paralympians would be overshadowed by the Olympic athletes because if you have it separate you’re on the main stage separately,” he said.
Batt said logistically it would also be a potential nightmare with double the amount of athletes in the village and a possible shortage of venues.
“It would also be a numbers thing,” he said.
“The Olympics and Paralympics are such a massive organisation that there are that many athletes in the village that it’s like a small town.
“I can’t imagine combining them both together – it’d almost be chaos and with venues you’d struggle to have them available and also fill them.”
The four-time Paralympian said an alternative option could be to incorporate more para sports into the Commonwealth Games as a trial.
I think we need to leave the Olympic and Paralympic Games separate because that’s the pinnacle of our sport and what everyone trains for.Ryley Batt
“I prefer the Paralympics how it is now, but I also enjoyed seeing para sports in the Comm Games because there’s no such thing as a Paralympic Commonwealth Games,” he said.
“Maybe that’s one way they could trial it.
“I like our own event, because it’s who we are and if you went into the Olympics you never know what’s going to happen.
“Sports might be cut out of the paralympics and a lot of people might miss out on sports altogether.”
While Batt admitted he would have liked to have seen wheelchair rugby on the Gold Coast, he was happy with the Olympics and Paralympics being their own event.
“I think we need to leave the Olympic and Paralympic Games separate because that’s the pinnacle of our sport and what everyone trains for,” he said.
“It’s not broken at the moment, the Paralympics is becoming very successful and it’s probably catching up to the Olympics.”