On Wednesday 17 August, former Paralympian Duane Kale returned to speak to our club. Duane competed at the Atlanta 1996 Paralympic Games where he won a staggering four gold medals, a silver and a bronze.
Duane came to speak to our club about sport, politics, and societal change.
Brenda Lazelle reports
Duane addressed us a number of years ago to share his journey and his success as a New Zealand Paralympic swimmer. He has since been Chef de Mission for our Paralympic Teams and is an elected member of International Paralympic Committee Governing Board (IPC), latterly as Vice President. He is now an independent Director and he was awarded a Paul Harris Fellow by our Club in 2014.

The motto of the IPC is change starts with sport, but the Paralympic Games is a showcase for more than just sport. As a real driver of social change and the way people perceive disability, the games have helped remove the stigma and barriers many have towards disability.

Duane provided examples to illustrate his point. Beijing 2008 resulted in change of attitudes in China which now has some of the best dedicated sporting facilities for people with disabilities anywhere in the world. The London Games 2012 - turned a toxic wasteland into a vibrant park. But more importantly, more people with a disability are employed now than there were in 2012 with the Games seen as a catalyst that drove change.

Just prior to Tokyo 2020 (21), Afghanistan fell into Taliban rule. Their small Paralympic team was stuck in Kabul and the Australian SAS found and secured them. Then in the chaos of Kabul Airport the French Secret Service took them from under the nose of the Australians and took them to Paris to the high performance Sports Centre.

Beijing 2022 – was a successful winter Olympic games but between the two events, the Russians invaded Ukraine. The games became the epicentre of political debate with countries prepared to repatriate their athletes if Russia was allowed to compete. Despite this, the Games resulted in a growing awareness around the world as people witnessed unbelievable sporting achievements of Paralympians, elevating who they are, what they can do who they can be.