Welsh flag, courtesy of Mary Kate.
It’s cool when organizations like ESPN recognize competitors with disabilities with their own award categories, but it’s even cooler when groups like Sport Wales recognize these achievements in categories that are also open to people without disabilities. This year, Sport Wales gave its Coach of the Year Award to Anthony Hughes. Himself a chair-user, Hughes is a renowned athletics coach, founder of the Disability Sport Wales Academy, and mentor to such star athletes as Nathan Stephens and Aledsion Davies.
Separate categories for competitors with disabilities help to shine a spotlight on underappreciated competitors. (Hughes, it should be noted, also took home the award for Coach to Disabled Performers.) However, organizations frequently think they’ve fulfilled their duty to equality simply by establishing these categories. No matter the scale of a his or her achievements, it is highly unusual to see an athlete or coach with a disability win an award over an athlete without one. This is a problem that needs to be remedied, and so we’d like to congratulate both Hughes for his achievements and Sport Wales for stepping up to recognize them.