Robin Surgeoner participated in the 1988 Seoul Paralympics winning four gold medals. He is incredibly proud to introduce himself as a Paralympic Swimmer.  He is also an original BPA Committee Member, now arts and empowerment trainer, artist, musician performer, poet, speaker and Sales Director.

An interview with Robin Surgeoner

Interviewer Klara Janicki, April 2013

Robin talks about preparing for his races at the 1988 Seoul Paralympics



I’d go into the venue; I’d warm up in a very insular focused way…Then I’d go into the holding room; each time I’d have my swimming cap on and dark mirrored sunglasses, because what it did, it kept other people from seeing into me, to keep that focus.

Download a pdf of Robin's full interview here

Extract from the interview where Robin describes his memories of taking part in the Seoul Games and how he sees the development of Paralympic sport.....

Let’s go back to some more pleasant memories. What is the most important memory for you throughout your sporting career?

My most important memory, you should have asked me that yesterday and I could have thought about it...I’ve got so many memories, I’ve got a 20-year span of competitive swimming, at least twelve years at an international level.

Finding a memory that really sticks out is quite difficult because I’ve got so many amazing memories.

But for me and, thinking about it now I can get that tingly hair-standing up moment, is walking out into the opening ceremony of the Seoul Paralympics into a stadium holding something like a 100 or 110 thousand people and then just roaring, just being in there, they talk about the cauldron of the games, that’s the beginning, and then you are there and then they light the flame and at that point–look, it’s genuinely doing that [showing his arm]– that lighting of the flame, and you’re just like “This is real, we’re here”.

 

And it was my second games, but as a memory, because that had the crowd, that 100 thousand people, they are there to see you, you’re there as an athlete representing Great Britain, you’re in your uniform, everybody is in their uniform, but you’re in yours, you’re there, you’ve got your Union Jack-based flag and you’re part of that GB team. That’s the kind of memory. I can replay you – from sitting outside, you have to sit outside forever, waiting, getting queued up in teams. You can imagine 3000-4000 athletes and support staff - they’ve got to get you all marshalled somewhere - ready to march in in the correct alphabetical order, so your kind of there, but I can see myself sat in the playing field outside of the stadium looking at the five rings on the end of the stadium which we could see, and the buzz, the anticipation of what it’s all about, and you’re talking to anybody and everybody because you’re all there for the same life-changing experience. And going in and that flame being lit and then the planes go whoosh through the sky across the top of the stadium. Awesome!

Can you tell me how you perceive the trend, the development of the Paralympic sport movement?

My understanding of the Paralympic movement is that it started small but had its own identity. If you go right back to its beginnings at Stoke-Mandeville it had its identity as a way, initially, of rehabilitation or reintegration. I think in some ways the idea of reintegration and rehabilitation has changed because the whole concept of what those words mean now to what they did 60 years ago is different in terms of the role that Disabled People do now play in society. The Paralympic movement itself has gone from strength to strength. I remember that in 1988 and 1992 there’d been massive arguments because the Paralympic team weren’t allowed to use the Olympic logo – and that’s still the case because the Olympic logo is the trademark of the Olympics and not the Paralympics. There were times where people would say “Shouldn’t we be swimming in the Olympics, should it not be the same, should the Olympics be inclusive?”