Welling man nostalgic about Paralympic Games

11:12 30 August 2012

Robert Churchill

Robert Churchill

Archant

The Paralympics get under way today (Thurs) with the country hoping to bag as many bronze, silver and golds as possible.

Robert ChurchillRobert Churchill

One Welling man will be watching eagerly, having helped his country to the medal rostrum in the 1984 Games. Robert Churchill won silver in the team table tennis event in New York, the last time the Paralympics have not been held in the same city as the Olympics.

It is an experience which has stuck with the 70-year-old and he was raring to go for the start of London’s offering.

“I’m delighted that the Paralympics are finally here. The Olympics were great but this feels like the real thing. It would have been great to represent my country in a home Games.”

Describing his own experience he said: “It was a very important thing to be a part of. It made the TV and was opened by Ronald Reagan. He was a big film star as well as the American president so everyone knew who he was. “British Airways flew us over there and treated us marvellously, and once we’d finished our events we stayed out to support our team-mates.”

Robert suffers from severe curvature of the spine which has affected him his whole life and he has had three limb replacements – two hips and one knee.

The New York Games acted as a forerunner to the Paralympics as they appear today, but the silver medallist is unhappy about how his brand of disability was branded “les autres”, a French phrase meaning “the others”.

He said: “Because we weren’t paraplegics, amputees or mentally disabled I don’t think we got as much coverage as we deserved. But it was a great experience nonetheless and something I’ll never forget.

“There are so many exceptional athletes. With the home crowds behind them these British athletes are going to have a great couple of weeks.”

The retired former engineer became involved in the British Table Tennis Association for the Disabled when it was formed in 1990 and was treasurer for a decade. He would often compete against non-disabled athletes on the London table tennis circuit.

Robert plays an active role in the local community by volunteering at the Greenwich and Bexley Community Hospice shop on Bellegrove Road. The Marne Road resident is now the full-time carer for his mother, who turned 100 back in March.

He will be watching the events from the comfort of his own front room and unsurprisingly, table tennis is the event he will be looking out for. The sport starts today at the ExCel Arena in Newham.

He said: “I’m not going to be able to get to the Games because of the logistics involved. It’s a real shame.”

“But table tennis is close to my heart so I’ll be keeping an eye on it even though I can’t be there in person.”

Sign up for our news alerts today!

Our editors' picks for the day's top news delivered to your inbox or phone.

Sign up for email alerts Sign up for mobile alerts
1
2 3 4 5 6
7

Latest London news

Thursday, September 3, 2015
Appeal to identify serial armed robber

Betting shops and a bank across Abbey Wood, Bromley, Lewisham and Greenwich were targets

Thursday, September 3, 2015
The accident happened on this junction yesterday morning (Photo: Google StreetView)

A man has died after he was hit by a lorry as he was walking by the junction of Lisson Grove and Church Road near Marylebone station yesterday.

Thursday, September 3, 2015
The sun setting behind the camp last night  (Photo by Rob Stothard/Getty Images)

If you have been moved by the stories of refugees travelling across Europe to the camp in Calais and would like to help these people, here are simple things you can do.

Wednesday, September 2, 2015
Police would like to identify this man (Picture: Met Police)

A 14-year-old girl was sexually assaulted in broad daylight on a route 85 bus in Wandsworth and police are now appealing for help to find her attacker.

Wednesday, September 2, 2015
Sian Berry, who also stood as the Green Party London Mayoral candidate in 2008, has been chosen as the Green's 2016 candidate (Picture: PA Images)

Transport campaigner and arts-loving councillor Sian Berry has been selected as the Green Party candidate for London Mayor in 2016.

What is this?

Near You Now

Don't Miss...

Competitions

Get ready to take in the beautiful sights of London from above!

Are you always seeking unique ways to see your favourite city? This one is for you.

Read more
Shop till you drop!

Home to top name brands at great prices, TK Maxx is more like a treasure hunt than a shop. Perfect for grabbing a bargain or some hidden gems, you arm yourself with a trolley and go wild.

Read more
Scones, jam and a cup of Earl Grey anyone?

Luxury boutique hotel Flemings Mayfair has recently launched The Drawing Room, London’s most stylish location for afternoon tea.

Read more