Swedish vaulter Anna Beck really dashed her hopes after she finished sixth on her Paralympic debut and fell short at Japan’s Izu track outside Tokyo.
The competition was fierce, however, as opponents set a total of three world records in the chase race on the Banks 3000m course – but conditions can also vary markedly.
As a Swedish Paralympian, Anna Beck attests that it is difficult to prove herself against other countries where the Paralympians have other opportunities to invest in their sport.
We never get into the same economic conditions, and if you look at the material that we Swedes have regarding cyclists from many other countries, you’ll see that they differ. My board, for example, I bought used for a thousand kroner. The other countries, which were now before me, led a government of nearly 15,000.
Do you see your foreign opponents getting more financial support?
– Yes I think so. We do not have direct financial compensation. I’ve chosen to take time off and work one day a week in recent years to be able to invest, because if you want to make the investment you need, you can’t work full time, says Anna Beck, a 41-year-old mother of four. , she adds:
– My husband is responsible for this investment. They are not equal terms at all. big difference.
Åsa Llinares Norlin is the Chairman of the Board of Directors The Swedish Paralympic Committee states that Anna Beck is not alone in suffering from a lack of support as an exhibition athlete for betting in Sweden.
It’s about resources and sponsors. Many other countries have equivalent systems and support their athletes whether or not they are show athletes. But we don’t have that in Sweden, and that means many don’t have the same opportunities to invest in their sport, she says.
Where are we lagging behind?
– Yes, we really are. But we are working hard for it.
What changes do you want to see?
You must be able to be a full-time athlete, in the same way as if you did not have a disability. In the same way as Daniel Stahl or Armand Duplantis, Anna Beck in cycling, Helen Ripa in rowing or Joachim Norberg in shooting, they will also be able to invest in their sport in order to be good.
We have great sponsors, but that’s not enough. We must be able to participate in state assistance.
Most of them agree That it is time for a change, not only to facilitate the Swedish Paralympic Games but also for the entire elite sport. So, the Swedish Sports Federation (RF), the Swedish Paralympic Committee and the Swedish Olympic Committee have started a joint work under the name “Elite Sports 2030” to review what the conditions are like – and there are no flashy photos of RF President Björn seeing Eriksson in the orb.
“It looks so bleak that our investments are declining relatively to competitor countries, and there’s a lot to suggest we’re heading into a worse future if we continue to do as we’ve done so far,” he says.
The successes of the Swedish Olympic and Paralympic Games over the years have been based on a large-scale sport run largely by non-profit powers. Eriksson explains that Sweden has today been overtaken by countries that have chosen to invest heavily and focus on fewer sports and in return be able to increase their efforts for each sport.
Follow financial support A distribution model where each private sports association gets its share of the pie. The Parasport Association is a member of the RF, but most athletes with disabilities belong to something other than a total of 70 special sports federations.
Erikson points out that when the entire elite sport thirsts for more money, disabled people become even more vulnerable.
– It becomes additionally noticeable on the parasitic side because there is a greater need there, among other things with additional companions and obstacles. The step will be higher than in individual sports in general.
Together with the Swedish Olympic and Paralympic Committee, the RF turned to the government and explained how bleak the development would be if no measures were taken. The greater need for more sponsors for elite activities and perhaps above all resources in the form of a higher level of competence is on the parasitic side.
– We have thought about how to create a competency center for parachutes. Our common view is that it should be built gradually within the RF because so many parachutes lie outside the Parachute Association and the goal of the Parachute Association is to abolish itself – it should be an explicit part of other private sports associations, says Bjorn Ericsson.
– When we calculated what we want to do in the future, we thought that approximately SEK 30 million should be invested in building efficiency.
Is Åsa Llinare right that we don’t have an equivalent system between the disabled and other athletes?
It is the entire elite that has this problem, and when it becomes, the umbrella is more damaged because there is more need there, with comrades and more, says Björn Eriksson and adds:
There is a critical factor where we have a lot to come to grips with, and where we might be worse off – and that applies to skill support. A lot revolves around being able to create conditions for the paralyzed.
Sweden at the Paralympics It only has 26 active people, 32 fewer people than Rio de Janeiro in 2016, and if you look at the effects of the pandemic on paragliding in Sweden, it doesn’t look very bright for the future.
The needs are very high when it comes to couples. Paragliding is down 44 percent, a pretty outrageous number that highlights the nature of the problem. This is one of the main reasons why we are so strong about what we should do when the pandemic is over, says Bjorn Ericsson.
How do you want to look in 2030?
– So we should have increased the volume and investment in this field. Not by downsizing other important areas but by new investments. The money has to come from some sort of balance from state, municipal and business sponsorship. This is how Britain worked as a successful example.
For Anna Beck, there is no doubt that change is required. Otherwise, you think we should get used to seeing Swedes at the bottom of the score lists.
If we want to keep investing and have a chance to produce more athletes, I really think it’s a prerequisite for people to keep up with the competition that’s out there. She says it will make it easier for all the up-and-coming athletes who want the opportunity.
“We will look back at this time and shake our heads.”
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