Video still of Ernie Guild

Ernie Guild is from Dundee and was diagnosed with a physical disability as a child following a spinal cord injury.

Early Life

As a child Ernie lived and grew up in Dundee, Scotland. When Ernie was attending school he began participating in sports. After watching girls and boys playing netball and basketball but being unable to participate due to his disability, he was given the opportunity to engage in swimming which a doctor had recommended.

When the teacher realised that Ernie was a very proficient swimmer, he was encouraged to join the swimming club and compete in sporting events, representing Scotland.

Life as a Paralympic Athlete

After being successful at competing in swimming and further on in life basketball, Ernie was urged by his friend David Foden to try athletics.  Ernie tried shot put and discus and discovered he was rather good at it. Subsequently, he competed in shot put at Stoke Mandeville stadium the next day and set a new British record and was asked to join the Great Britain team at the Paralympics.

Ernie Guild represented team Great Britain in shot put and Discus at the Seoul 1988 Paralympic Games, the Barcelona 1992 Paralympic Games and the Atlanta Paralympic Games in 1996.

He also participated in the European Championships in Belgium where he also set a new world record.

Retirement as a Paralympic Athlete

Ernie decided to stop competing due to increasing age and the time constraints that come with training. But he is still active in the field of sport as an athletic field coach and as vice chairman of the British Wheelchair Sport Foundation. Ernie works with schools and clubs to encourage and help disabled people as young as six to participate in sports.

Achievements and awards

Paralympic Games

Ernie competed at the Seoul 1988 Paralympic Games where he won the gold medal in the men’s Shot Put, the Barcelona 1992 Paralympics winning the bronze medal and the Atlanta 1996 Paralympics.

Other awards and recognition

For his long contributions to wheelchair sports and para-athletics, Ernie Guild has been awarded an MBE.

Interview with Ernie Guild

Interviewer Klara Janicki, May 2013

Shot Put at Seoul, Barcelona and Atlanta

As a disabled person, I was probably luckier than a lot of others… because I have always done a lot of medicine ball work and things like that so I have upper body strength, of which swimming gave you as well. Then doing basketball gave me a good cardiovascular workout so when it came to the shot put, the strength was there and all it was that the rawness got taken out of me.

You competed, you mentioned, in 3 Paralympics. Which do you remember most? What was the biggest memory you have from the Paralympics?

Competing in the Paralympics, I was very, very lucky that I was able to compete, as I’ve said earlier, in 3 Paralympics, in 1988 at Seoul, South Korea, in 1992 in Barcelona, Spain, in 1996 in Atlanta, USA. And I think that my best memories, I would say, for... because the three were completely different so I had 3 different outlooks. But having never been before to Asia and things like that and seen the cultures and everything in Korea, was unbelievable. When I went to Spain it was one of the best sporting events I’ve ever been to in my life and the way we were treated by the people in Spain - who know a lot about sport, no matter what people say - and they were very very good, and the competition went on at a different sphere as far as I was concerned, the professionalism was tremendous there.

Then in 1996 we went to Atlanta, and it was different for me there because I was coming to, I knew that was the finish of my career, as I was going to retire in Atlanta, so basically my idea was to try and put up a good performance as I could and enjoy it because I knew that was my swan song and that would be it. And I’ve always said that at Atlanta that would be the last time I pick up a shot put in a competition, a major competition that is, and basically it was. The only time I’ve picked one up was about 2 years afterwards, in 1998, when I done it just to help out in a small competition because it had a lack of numbers of wheelchair competitors, and I went there as a guest. And I done very well, I was that as good performances, but there was no pressure put on me, I just went out to relax and enjoy myself.

But I would think, getting back to Paralympics, Korea will always have a special part in my memory, mainly because that was the one where I won my gold medal and I really enjoyed myself and everybody went as a good team, good comrades between us , and we were there for quite a long time, and the way the Korean people took us to their hearts was unbelievable and really enjoyable. But as I said, winning a gold medal does that to you as well, it’s something you’ll never forget, because you know no matter what your name will always appear on that book, you know the Paralympic gold medallist. World records are different, they are there to be broken by someone else and your name disappears, but it can be never taken out of the Paralympic gold medallists. And it was really enjoyable. So I think Korea was my number one. But I think a lot of people, you know, who have been to them and they’ve been to 3 or 4, and if you’ve got the gold medal, the first gold medal, was the special one, everybody remembers that. And I know even the likes of Tanni. Tanni Grey Thompson who is a multi-Paralympic medallist, I am sure Tanni still remembers her first one with great enjoyment.

Download a pdf of Ernie's full interview here

References

  • Janicki, K., 2013. Ernie Guild. National Paralympic Heritage Trust. https://www.paralympicheritage.org.uk/ernie-guild
  • https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Para-athletics. 2020. Para-Athletics.International Paralympic Committee. 2020. Ernest Guild - Athletics | Paralympic Athlete Profile. https://www.paralympic.org/ernest-guild
  • WheelPower. 2020. Ernie Guild MBE. https://www.wheelpower.org.uk/characters/ernie-guild-mbe