Tony Griffin is one of Britain's most celebrated medal winning Paralympians, having won a total of 38 medals in Athletics. His first international competition was in 1976 and his Paralympic career reached its pinnacle 8 years later.

Interviews with Tony Griffin

Interviewed by Neil Young, November 2012

How did you first get involved in Athletics?

Initially, I started off at it, about thirteen or fourteen years old at school, like most school kids do. But I got into weightlifting about fourteen with the aim to help my coordination initially but within a few months I had developed quite good muscle stature so I then realised that weightlifting was the one. Apart from helping my coordination – which it did – I began to get quite a nice physique and it progressed from there. The athletics progressed obviously in school. I took part in regular competitions and began to win events and then [inaudible] … so I was selected for national competition at a very early age – say fifteen – and again I went for national competitions, doing the similar events – Indian club, javelin mainly but also other events like football [inaudible] … but all these events were suited to my health. My training was geared to those events and I got better and better, from strength to strength and before I knew it I was in the British team getting mentioned in the business all over the world.

As part of the heritage of the Paralympic movement of this country, what would you say to young people getting involved in athletes?

I mentioned school visits that I do as a Paralympian and my message to them, to parents, is: “get your children involved with sport” whether they have a disability or whether they have not got a disability”. Sport is for all and I think children should get their children involved at an early age. How it happened for me it was possible physiotherapy at first but I started to like sport and when I do my presentations I show them my pictures of me with various Olympic stars, Paralympic stars in front of these children, these students: “be in involved with sport and you can travel the world the same as I have”. You may not be always top class athletes, students for example they could become physiotherapists or doctors. But you could still be involved with sport and travel around the world with the British team treating athletes. So travelling with those who can help through sport, not [inaudible] just be involved and that’s what I tell people when I visit schools. At their age they can do anything they want to in life and the parents that have got disabled children: “Look at me I have five or six children and my life is brilliant really and there’s no reason anybody’s who’s got a disability shouldn’t have the life I have had, have the children I’ve got. I consider myself to be as normal as a normal person is and there is no reason why any disabled person shouldn’t be the same – or a disabled child or student – can do what I’ve done. And my message is simple: “go to your sports clubs, take part in local school sports days. Anything can happen with the right mental attitude and the right support of parents, teachers etc. I did it so why can’t you?”

Download a pdf of Tony's full interview here

Tony discusses the Paralympic legacy