| 7.2°C Dublin

'degrading' Irish Paralympian says it is 'unacceptable' to have his wheelchair destroyed on flight to Tokyo games

The Longford Paralympic swimmer was given an “oversized” airport wheelchair in replacement, which he said he can barely push.


Close

Swimmer Patrick Flanagan during a Tokyo 2020 Paralympic Games Team Announcement at Abbotstown in Dublin. (Photo by David Fitzgerald/Sportsfile)

Swimmer Patrick Flanagan during a Tokyo 2020 Paralympic Games Team Announcement at Abbotstown in Dublin. (Photo by David Fitzgerald/Sportsfile)

Swimmer Patrick Flanagan during a Tokyo 2020 Paralympic Games Team Announcement at Abbotstown in Dublin. (Photo by David Fitzgerald/Sportsfile)

Irish Paralympic athlete Patrick Flanagan has been left “gutted” after his wheelchair was destroyed en route to the Tokyo Paralympic games.

The swimmer landed in London Heathrow airport yesterday at the half way point on his journey to Tokyo when the chair was discovered broken.

“This is not something that can happen to wheelchair users. It’s unacceptable,” he said on Twitter.

Mr Flanagan said the chair is his independence, and to be left in an over sized airport chair is “degrading”.

“When the plane landed I was given my wheelchair back, except it was completely broken,” he shared on twitter with pictures of the broken chair.

Mr Flanagan said the wheels on the chair were damaged to the point they could “no longer spin, along with a lot of other dents and scrapes”. He added that the chair is not easily damaged.

The Longford Paralympic swimmer was given an “oversized” airport wheelchair in replacement, which he said he can barely push.

“The staff in Heathrow were extremely apologetic. But unfortunately an apology does very little for me. I was given an over sized airport wheelchair, filled out a claim form and sent on my way. I can barely push myself in this chair and simple tasks like getting around my hotel room are extremely tough. And now I have to fly to Tokyo.

“This is not something that can happen to wheelchair users. It’s unacceptable. Both Airlines and baggage handlers need to pay attention to chairs. My chair is my independence and takes months to be fitted and ordered. Mine is specifically sized to support my back, is light weight so I can lift it in to the car, and is extremely sturdy. It would not be damaged easily.

“I’m gutted to have to start out my Paralympic journey like this but I just can’t wait to get to Japan, join up with the rest of the team and put on a a performance to be proud of.”

On Saturday morning, Mr Flanagan confirmed a replacement chair was being flown out to meet him in Tokyo, but stressed that was not a possibility for most wheelchair users.

Sunday World Newsletter

Sign up for the latest news and updates

This field is required This field is required

“Thanks to everyone for reaching out this morning,” he wrote on Twitter. “Luckily I’m getting an older chair flown out today. But not all wheelchair users are lucky enough to have a spare. The point remains the same, this should never happen!”


Download the Sunday World app

Now download the free app for all the latest Sunday World News, Crime, Irish Showbiz and Sport. Available on Apple and Android devices


Privacy