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Politics, power & the podium: coaching for Paralympic performance

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This paper considers the cultural politics of working with elite athletes with a disability. The focus of the paper is a coach who has dedicated his career to performance athletes with a disability – Robert Ellchuk – and draws on the coach’s personal experiences and ethnographic work with four different coach-Paralympic athlete dyads. These data are (re)presented in the form of a reflexive conversation supplemented with post-conversation reflections. Important questions are raised about the structure of ‘coach education’, the role of a coach, hierarchies within disabled sport, the impact of commodification on the disabled body and the (perceived) barriers to physical activity for disabled participants. The article concludes with an invitation to readers to make their own meaning of this polysemic narrative, especially at a time when specific representations of ‘acceptable’ disabled bodies will be circulated in, and through, the London 2012 Olympic and Paralympic Games.

Keywords: Paralympics; coaching; cultural politics; physical cultural studies; reflective practice

Document Type: Research Article

DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1080/14623943.2012.670109

Affiliations: Department of Education, Faculty of Humanities and Social Sciences,University of Bath BA2 7AY, UK,

Publication date: June 1, 2012

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