Sarah Storey wants end to 'patronising' of Paralympic athletes

Sarah Storey is urging the public to appreciate the "grit" of Paralympic athletes instead of "patronising" them.

The seven-time Paralympic gold winner was speaking after a survey revealed nearly one in four disabled people in Britain feels patronised by the Games.

"We don't want patronising," said Storey, who has won golds in swimming and cycling. "We don't want to be told we're inspirational and amazing.

"We want to be told we're gritty and determined and we're athletes first."

The 34-year-old added: "We want people to just see sport. We don't want people to just think 'oh, poor darlings, they've only got one arm or one leg and look at how well they're doing'."

The survey, polled for charity Scope, found that 61% of the 386 disabled people questioned saw the Games as an opportunity for disabled people - but just 23% said they were excited.

But Storey rejects the view that the Paralympics are a second-class event and does not think that they need to take place at the same time as the Olympics.

She said: "I think they are both the same. Paralympics is an abbreviation for parallel Olympics, meaning running alongside.

"It's logistically impossible to run the Paralympics and the Olympics together because the events would take far too long. You'd have very long days, you couldn't fit it into games of two weeks. It would take six weeks.

"Then some events would have to be pulled. We're already seeing the Paralympics expand and certain more severely disabled events have been pulled. We don't want to lose the events for the more severely disabled."

Storey hopes that London 2012 will lay the foundations for the Paralympics to be given the recognition it deserves, by complementing the Olympics.

"I think it is one Games," she said. "The Olympics and Paralympics is very much joined for the very first time. Hopefully that will provide an incentive to other nations to see what a benefit that is to put the two games into one sentence all the time and to talk about it in that way.

"We've got such talented Paralympic athletes who are competing in able-bodied events all the time and using able-bodied competition nationally to prepare for the Paralympic Games.

"Ultimately, my involvement with able-bodied sport and competition at the highest level has hopefully shown that I'm a representation of Paralympic sport across the board."