Edinburgh was the first city to be selected for the Commonwealth Paraplegic Games under the new constitution developed at the Kingston Games in 1966. The Edinburgh Games were opened by the British Prime Minister, Edward Heath, and comprised a sizable two hundred athletes from fourteen nations. New participating nations included Hong Kong, Malaysia, Malta and Uganda. Australia’s involvement at these Games meant that, for financial reasons, a team could not attend the annual International Stoke Mandeville Games, highlighting the increasing schedule of events for international disability sport.
These Games were the last time an Australian team had to be loaded on and off planes by stairs, with the development of aerobridges and smaller wheelchairs allowing for more independence in travelling by air. The Edinburgh games also marked a growing emphasis on winning in disability sport. This was demonstrated by the increases in protests about Australian competitors. Protests were lodged about Vic Renalson who, it was argued, gained an advantage in the discus throw by being strapped into his chair, and Roy ‘Chook’ Fowler who his opponents contended was not appropriately classified. Furthermore, Bill Mather-Brown and Kevin Betts developed a tactic to ‘box in’ a competitor from a rival country during the 400m-wheelchair race in order to ensure that fellow Australian, Robert McIntyre, won. This emphasis on classification, techniques to improve athletic performance and win-at-all-costs mentality, highlighted the competitive nature of disability sport that was developing during this period.
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