National Paralympic sport policies influencing a country’s Paralympic success

Pankowiak, Aurélie ORCID: 0000-0003-0178-513X, Brockett, Camilla ORCID: 0000-0003-4933-8056, De Bosscher, Veerle and Westerbeek, Hans ORCID: 0000-0001-5092-9676 (2023) National Paralympic sport policies influencing a country’s Paralympic success. International Journal of Sport Policy and Politics. pp. 1-21. ISSN 1940-6940


The Paralympics Games are increasing in competitiveness as more countries seek top medal outcomes. In response, governments are focusing on the development and implementation of effective national sport policies/systems to optimise Paralympic success. However, little is known about national sport policy influencing a country’s Paralympic success. Indeed, the literature on national elite sport policy has focused on Olympic sport and emerging Paralympic sport studies are limited to a country/sport. The aim of this research was to identify key national Paralympic sport policy interventions influencing a country’s Paralympic medal outcomes. This exploratory qualitative study was informed by a realist perspective, and by the social relational and human rights models of disability. Twenty-three semi-structured interviews were conducted with national Paralympic sport managers from the United Kingdom, Australia, France and Canada, and the data was analysed using qualitative descriptive analysis. Findings confirm that existing national Olympic sport policies are also important for Paralympic success, however, within these policies, parasport-specific processes were identified, and two policy interventions unique to Paralympic sports were found: integration of disability-specific and Paralympic sport knowledge in the sporting system, and a national framework for Paralympic athlete classification. This study advances knowledge on national Paralympic sport policies and suggests that researchers, evaluators, and practitioners need to account for Paralympic-specific policies and processes. Tailoring policies to the specificities of the Paralympic domain may provide competitive advantage in the Paralympic Games. This study argues for further research to understand how the identified policy interventions may be influenced by the country’s context.

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Item type Article
DOI 10.1080/19406940.2023.2196992
Official URL
Subjects Current > FOR (2020) Classification > 3504 Commercial services
Current > Division/Research > Institute for Health and Sport
Keywords Paralympic Games, Paralympic success, sport policy, national sport policies
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