The International Paralympic Committee (IPC) has announced the next five inductees to the Paralympic Hall of Fame during the Rio Paralympic Games. Junichi Kawai, Chantal Petitclerc, Franz Nietlispach, Neroli Susan Fairhall and Martin Morse will all be inducted to the Hall of Fame this year.
Given this induction will take place at the Rio 2016 Paralympic Games only summer sports athletes and coaches were considered for this induction. Winter Sports individuals will be considered again in the 2017 induction classes.
Kawai won 21 medals in the pool for Japan, five of them gold, making him the most successful men’s Paralympic swimmer for his nation. Kawai retired after London, ending a career that spanned six Paralympic Games.
While still an athlete Kawai founded the Paralympians Association of Japan in 2003, and has remained involved. Since retirement Kawai was named President of the Japanese Para Swimming Association and is currently serving as the Vice Chairman of the Tokyo 2020 Athletes’ Commission.
Petitclerc is finally inducted after being the most medaled female track Paralympian in history, winning 21 medals, 14 of them gold, for Canada. She appeared in five Paralympics from 1992 through to Beijing in 2008, and continued to control throughout.
In 2008 she was at the top of her game, winning every race from 100m to 1500m in the T54 for the second Games in a row. Her time in the 200m T54 is still the world record, but she is not done yet, and will be traveling to Rio as the Chef de Mission of the Canadian team.
Neitlispach competed in nine Paralympic Games from 1976 to 2008 competing in four different sports, winning 14 gold medals. His main sport was wheelchair racing, through the track and the marathon distance, and claimed 23 medals throughout his long career.
Fairhall will be inducted posthumously, having competed in athletics and archery for New Zealand and quickly saw archery as her dominant sport. She was the first ever Paralympian to compete at an Olympics as she competed at the 1984 Olympic Games, finishing 35th. Unfortunately Fairhall passed away, aged 61 in 2006.
Morse is inducted as a coach having served as a phenomenal wheelchair racing coach for many years at the University of Illinois. Under his watch his athletes have won 52 Paralympic medals, and he laid the foundations for a university that continues to produce some amazing talent in wheelchair racing. Morse revolutionized wheelchair racing, inventing the Harness Wheelchair Racing Glove and developing a new racing technique.