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On Side

38 EpisodesProduced by Tim Gavel, Ryan Micallef & Lyndall LarkhamWebsite

The official podcast of Sport Integrity Australia. Our mission is to protect the integrity of sport and the health and welfare of those who participate in Australian sport. This podcast examines the issues that affect sport, answers your questions and educates you about clean and fair sport.

36:46

Clean and Gold: Chris Nunn and Ahmed Kelly

This episode of Clean and Gold celebrates the Paralympic Games – an event that is so often referred to as “more than sport”.

Hosted by Tim Gavel and three-time Olympic gold medallist Petria Thomas, this edition features Paralympic mentor and former Australian head coach Chris Nunn and Paralympic hopeful, swimmer Ahmed Kelly.

Nunn, who works as a consultant with the Oceania Paralympic Committee, says due to a lack of resources, many of the emerging countries that he has been mentoring will not be able to make it to the Games.

“We are a country of haves,” he says. “We have as many resources as we can get and I’ve worked in countries that have had nothing and invested a lot of time and effort that are not be going to the Paralympic Games.

“They cannot get there or get back without a five-week quarantine. These people have a minimal amount of work and just can’t afford to do that.”

Nunn, who has opted not to go to Tokyo for the Games but will coach remotely, laments the direction the Paralympics has taken and says it’s now a landscape “for the less disability you have the higher chance of you being selected to represent your country”.

“The disappointing part of where Paralympic sport has gone is that fact that we are now doing everything we can to chase the medal,” he says. “It’s gone away from the initial concept of what the Games is all about.”

While he admits he is somewhat “disillusioned”, Nunn says he will always be an advocate for an equal playing field for all.

“I will never deny an athlete a chance to be the best they can be, and never deny a coach the access to education that will help them produce a better athlete, but, boy, we’ve still got some hurdles to overcome in Para sport in terms of getting the right group of athletes there to showcase Para sport.”

Kelly, who made his Paralympic debut at the London Games in 2012, was born in Baghdad with under-developed arms and legs – not uncommon in countries torn by chemical warfare.

He was adopted at the aged of seven by an Australia women and is now competing in his third Games.

Kelly admits it’s “going to be one of the strangest Games that I’m going to be a part of but as long as I get to wear the green and gold and the gold cap I’ll be pretty happy”.

While he may be inspiring others, he finds others with similar difficulties equally inspiring.

“To be able to see how people with a disability get around and do their own business that also inspires me to do better,” he says.

“I want people who have a disability or who look just like me, to know they have just as amount of opportunity to be able to be successful, whether it’s in life or in the pool. I want them to give it a crack because if you don’t give it a crack, you will never know.”

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