Canberra — In an exclusive interview with Wikinews, Australian Paralympians and Scott Reardon discussed the increased professionalism of their sport, and the challenges elite athletes now face in securing sponsorship deals.,
O’Hanlon, with the support of his Australian teammates, is on a mission to professionalise Paralympic athletics. He is leading a charge to encourage runners to cover the logos on shoes they wear to training and in competition because he believes that many people who see him in pictures when he wins world records think his shoes are paid for by sponsors; they are not.
Paralympic athletic competitors must buy their own shoes; while Australian Paralympic competitors receive support from the government, they still must pay for things their abled-bodied counterparts would not. O’Hanlon and Reardon believe unless competitors organise as a group and act together, they will not change the sponsorship landscape for Paralympic athletes.
Teammate Michelle Errichiello didn’t tape over the logos on her shoes, while O’Hanlon told Wikinews that he had taped over the logos on a pair of practice sprint shoes which he wouldn’t normally cover due to photographers being present at the athletics track. They intentionally choose the flesh colour of the tape to make it more noticed by spectators, highlighting their cause and raising its profile.
O’Hanlon told Wikinews reporters that additional information about these sponsorship issues could be found on his website.