Lifetime award

Physiotherapist Christine Meaden has been given a lifetime achievement award for her work in developing a fairer sports classification system for people with disabilities.

The top honour from charity Disability Sports Events, which creates opportunities for disabled people in sports, was given to Dr Meaden at an event at Manchester United football ground. 'It was nice to get recognition as a classifier, because it is often only the athletes and coaches that get the recognition,' she said. Dr Meaden developed the profile classification system in 1986, as she 'felt a burning desire to make competition for people with a disability as fair as possible'. Previous classification systems grouped people by diagnoses, while she uses physiotherapy assessment skills to match people into classifications of the same abilities - but not necessarily the same disabilities. 'The other approach was very disability specific, whereas mine is about ability rather than the cause,' she said. The profile system has been adopted for all Disability Sports Events national championships, and was used for the paralympic equestrian games in Sydney and Athens. Dr Meaden is now developing a programme to train teachers in both special needs and mainstream schools to use the profile system to get more children with disabilities participating in sports at grassroots and national level.
Louise Hunt

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