Page last updated at 13:47 GMT, Friday, 2 January 2009

Dame Tanni denies honours worry

Dame Tanni Grey-Thompson discusses the honours system

British paralympic legend Dame Tanni Grey Thompson has denied having concerns about how paralympians were given New Year honours.

She was quoted in a newspaper saying there was a "lack of parity" with Olympic medallists.

But Dame Tanni told the BBC there was no "right or wrong" with the honours system and she was "hugely supportive".

Every GB Olympic gold medallist was honoured but 17 of the 35 Paralympian champions missed out.

Cardiff-born Dame Tanni won a total of 11 gold medals and was awarded the OBE and the MBE, and was made a Dame Commander of the Order of the British Empire in 2005.

David Roberts
David Roberts equalled Dame Tanni's 11 gold medal wins at Beijing 2008

Her medal tally was matched at the Beijing games by Welsh swimmer David Roberts, from Llantwit Fadre near Pontypridd. He became a CBE in the latest honours list.

She was quoted as telling to Daily Telegraph: "By the time 2012 comes around, we need to get this in order

"The reality - and it is surely not right - at the moment is that you have to multi-medal at the Paralympic Games to get a New Year's honours list award."

But she denied being critical.

Dame Tanni told BBC Wales: "This is how the honours system works. I've been hugely honoured in that I've received three honours through the system. I'm hugely supportive of the honours system, I'm part of the decision-making process, albeit at a fairly low level.

I think there's an assumption by the public that they look at medals and think, this person has been awarded this medal therefore this is the award they should get.

"I don't think it works like that. I don't think there's any right or wrong when it comes to the honours system.

"It all depends on where you are in your career, the magnitude of what's been achieved, whether you'll be around in another four years."

Swansea-based swimmer Eleanor Simmonds, a Paralympic double gold medallist, was made an MBE at the age of 14, the youngest person to receive the honour.

Swimmer Rebecca Adlington, who also won two gold medals at the Olympics, received the higher-ranking OBE honour.

Welsh Olympic rower Tom James became a MBE, but there was no new year honour for disabled world rowing champion and paralympic gold medalist Tom Aggar.


Here are a selection of your views below.

I find it bewildering that in effect entertainers get medals and awards for entertaining - I think that perhaps the paralympians deserve more recognition as they do not work in the limelight in the same way as the olympic athletes. I'd like to see more recognition for the ppl who actually do things that count, the ppl running charity shops, caring for other ppl's children, setting up schools, running websites to support other ppl and so on.
Jax Blunt, UK

Setting aside basic issues about the honours system, why should someone be honoured for getting an Olympic medal? Surely the medal IS the honour? By all means give an appropriate national honour but only to those who truly excel and act as role models over a period of time - like Tanni G-T.
Dave, Aberystwyth

I still fail to see why these sportspeople get state honours in the first place, though. An easy way to level the playing-field (sic) would be NOT to automatically dole out honours to any athlete during their active career, thus allowing a more sensible assessment of their achievements, limiting disparity and recognising the fact that the medal is itself the award. Even Chris Hoy has said that it is "mad".

Although this may not apply to paralympians, why people still get honours for doing a job which they are at least partly paid to do by the state is beyond me.
Simon Tushingham, Manchester

Successul athletes are honoured by their victories: they do not deserve further adulation unless they use their success to promote some benefit to society over an extended period. Travesty? The word does not begin to cover the diminution of the value of the honours system for those who spend a significant part of their lifetimes in the service of others or who provide a tangible benefit to society.
Steve, Preston

I don't agree with the earlier postings that question our Olympians receiving medals. They are Role Models to be proud of and should receive the recognition they deserve to encourage future generations; they worked hard to achieve World Class honours.
Cheryl Davies, Wigan, Lancashire

I had to smile when Chris Hoy said that his reward was the sort of thing that money couldn't buy. In fact it was our sponsorship money that enabled him to turn professional. It was our lottery money that enabled the velodromes to be built so that he and the others could train. This is not to take away their achievements but these are now all professional sportspeople doing their jobs and that shoul be reward enough in itself.
Jeff, Cardiff

It is rapidly becoming an 'expectation' amongst many that there is a right to an honour and this can only increase the pressure to scrap the whole sysytem. This would be a great shame as there are many deserving of public recognition and who gratefully and modestly receive whatever is awarded to them without complaint or rancour.
B M King, Harrogate, UK

These paralympians are doing well, but they're not competing at the highest level. Many countries don't have the money or facilities to train and fund disabled atheletes, thats why GB and USA dominate. Most countries don't even view it as a serious competition, compare TV ratings for a normal olympic 100 metres final and the paralympic 100m final!

Dan , Shropshire

They had recognition in that each medal cost millions of pounds in sponsorship from Joe Public. Surely those who created world records, or as in the case of Hoy were the first to achieve 3 in one games in the last century, or similar truly EXTRAORDINARY, may receive an honour but not every medalist! We have ruined good sportsmen and women previously by heaping glory and honour on them too early in their career - let's learn a lesson please.
Martin , Leeds. W Yorks

I agree that paralympians should receive equal recognition but I disagree with the recent practise of rewarding medal winners immediately after their Olympic successes. I believe that what they do with their Olympic success and what they give back to their sports and communities should form part of the honours criteria.
Dee, South London

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SEE ALSO
Roberts & Simmonds shine in pool
14 Sep 08 |  Disability Sport
Tanni's last lap
13 May 07 |  Disability Sport

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