Paralympians say Premier’s Olympics title was ‘a kick in the teeth’

In Olympic Games

Athletes have welcomed the addition of Paralympics to the Queensland Premier’s formal titles but still question why it was left off in the first place.

South-east Queensland won the rights to host the 2032 Olympic and Paralympic Games, and Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk became the Minister for the Olympics but not the Paralympics.

Stirling Hinchliffe became Minister Assisting the Premier on Olympics and Paralympics.

However, the state’s opposition leader David Crisafulli changed his title to Shadow Minister for the Olympics and Paralympics.

Para-athletes voiced concerns that the Paralympic Games were being excluded.

After receiving an open letter from the Paralympic Australian Athletes Commission, the premier announced on social media on Thursday that her title would change to include both games.

Retired Paralympic swimmer Blake Cochrane helped author the letter sent to the premier.

The 31-year-old said leaving Paralympics out of Ms Palaszczuk’s title felt like a snub.

“For everything that Paralympics have done, and the movement that has been generated, to then ultimately be forgotten in a title … it’s a bit of a kick in the teeth,” he said.

Mr Cochrane, who has won a medal at four Paralympic Games, said the premier’s title left athletes feeling as though they were somehow less than other competitors.

man smiling at camera as he swims in pool
Blake Cochrane has won six medals across four Paralympic Games since Beijing, 2008.(Supplied: Wade Brennan)

“Talking about all these things of inclusivity, opportunity, diversity, empowerment through sport and then to ultimately leave out Paralympians once you’ve actually achieved that result of getting the games was was very, very … hard to take,” he said.

“For us as athletes, it’s something that we felt very, very strongly about and have been talking about for a very long time.

“I know another a number of athletes have individually written to her [the premier] and just got a generic response in regards to actually looking at changing that title early on in the campaign.”

Blake Cochrane has competed at every Commonwealth Games since Delhi 2010
Blake Cochrane has competed at every Commonwealth Games since Delhi 2010.(Supplied: Wade Brennan)

Paralympic swimmer Braedan Jason said the issue was about more than the title.

Two men standing on a balcony looking over a courtyard in budgie smugglers and akubras
Para athletes Braedan Jason and Blake Cochrane having fun at the Tokyo Olympic Games athletes’ village.(Supplied)

“It was really sad to not have that representation in just a title,” he said.

“Yes, it’s just a title but for where we’ve come from and what we are striving to do and become in 2032 [it] was really disappointing.

“A lot of people were were really sad.

“I think all Paralympians were a little bit upset … we’ve been to every Paralympic Games since the 1960s.”

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