Ralph Rowe was Great Britain's first Black Paralympian. His Paralympic debut was at the Tokyo 1964 Games where he competed in weightlifting and athletics. Ralph competed at six Paralympic Games but the biggest achievement of his career was winning gold at the Heidelberg 1972 Games in the heavyweight class.

Photo of world record winner Ralph from an article in the Nursing Time, July 12 1973

Life as a Paralympic athlete

Ralph preparing for the Tokyo 1964 Games

Ralph first competed at the Tokyo 1964 Paralympic Games, where he won two bronze medals, one in weightlifting (Men’s Heavyweight) and the other in athletics (Men’s Club Throw C). He went on to compete at a further five Paralympics in weightlifting, the Tel Aviv 1968 Games winning a silver medal (Men’s Heavyweight); the Heidelberg 1972 Games winning a gold medal (Men’s Light-Heavyweight); the Toronto 1976 Games winning a silver medal (Men’s Light-Heavyweight); the Arnhem 1980 Games (Men's Heavyweight over 85kg Paraplegic); and the Stoke Mandeville 1984 Games winning a silver medal (Men’s Weightlifting -95kg Paraplegic).

Ralph and the Great Britain Paralympic Team at the Arnhem 1980 Games

Achievements and Awards

Paralympic Games

Ralph had a very successful Paralympic sporting career in weightlifting spanning six Games, winning one bronze medal, three silver medals and one gold medal.

Other sporting events

Ralph also competed in weightlifting at national level and represented the Pinderfields Spinal Unit.

Other awards and recognitions

Ralph was awarded the Sports Journalists’ Association Bill McGowran Trophy in 1978 for excellence in para sport.


  • https://www.skysports.com/transfer/news/29877/12089576/ralph-rowe-weightlifter-and-first-black-british-paralympian#:~:text=Ralph%20Rowe%20is%20one%20name,medals%20at%20five%20of%20them
  • https://www.paralympic.org/results
  • https://www.sportsjournalists.co.uk/sja-sport-awards/past-winners-of-the-sja-sports-awards/