Three more people have been awarded the Paralympic Order by the IPC ©IPC

Three champions of disabled sport are set to be honoured with the Paralympic Order.

Awarded by the International Paralympic Committee (IPC), the Order is the highest tribute a person connected to the Paralympic movement can achieve.

The latest trio to be recognised are Sylvana Mestre, former chairperson of the IPC Alpine Skiing Sport Technical Committee (STC), Georgios Fountoulakis, President of the Hellenic Paralympic Committee and Dr Axel Bolsinger, Ophthalmologist Adviser and Classifier for the German National Paralympic Committee.

They will be paid tribute to at the 2015 Paralympic Awards in Mexico City on Saturday (November 14), as part of the IPC General Assembly.

All three have made important contributions to the Paralympic Movement, according to the IPC, and have illustrated Paralympic ideals either in the sporting world or via outstanding services to the cause of the movement.

Mestre was a member of the IPC Alpine Skiing STC between 2002 and 2006 and then served as chairperson from 2007 to 2014.

During her time with the STC, she worked on various development projects, which increased the number of young people practicing skiing and improved the sporting calendar to feature distinct levels of competition across age groups and ability levels.

In 2006, the Spaniard organised an IPC Alpine Skiing Development Camp in France, involving 55 youngsters aged between 11 and 17.

Many of the camp graduates have gone on to win Paralympic and World medals, including France’s Marie Bochet, a four times gold medallist at Sochi 2014, Austria’s Claudia Loesch and Slovakia’s Miroslav Haraus.

“When I received the letter that I won, tears came down my face while a big smile came out,” Mestre said.

Sylvana Mestre organised a camp attended by skiers who went on to become Paralympic champions, such as Marie Bochet
Sylvana Mestre organised a camp attended by skiers who went on to become Paralympic champions, such as Marie Bochet ©Getty Images

“I was flattered, I felt so honoured though I thought why me?”

“I do what I do because I love my work.

"For me, every day is a challenge while teaching someone with an impairment to practice sport in a correct way.”

Fountoulakis, meanwhile, worked for the Hellenic Power Company in Greece where he began to fight for the rights of employees, such as people with impairments.

At the same time, he competed in wheelchair basketball, and through sport, he got involved with administration.

His tireless efforts led to the development of sports federations for athletes with impairments and eventually the Hellenic Paralympic Committee.

He then extended the Paralympic Movement throughout Greece, before becoming Chef de Mission of the Hellenic Paralympic delegation at Athens 2004 and London 2012.

“I feel incredibly privileged especially since through me, the entire Hellenic Paralympic Movement is being awarded," he said.

"It is a Movement that I have been serving for decades and has gained a great momentum over the years."

Bolsinger has significantly improved the standard, quality and transparency in visual classification and has been a strong advocate for fair-play in Paralympic sports.

He set a high value on instructions and education of visual impairment (VI) classifiers, as well as on scientific analysis and medical technical equipment in visual classification.

The German also participated as a VI classifier at the Sydney 2000, Salt Lake City 2002, Athens 2004, Torino 2006 and Beijing 2008 Paralympic Games.

London mayor Boris Johnson is a past recipient of the Paralympic Order
London mayor Boris Johnson is a past recipient of the Paralympic Order ©Getty Images

As International Blind Sports Federation (IBSA) Europe Medical Officer, he supported and developed the professional discussion and expertise between the international VI classifiers and organised international meetings and seminars for VI classifiers.

“Winning this honour gives me a sense of great gratitude and pride,” he said.

“I see the order as recognition of my long standing commitment to serve significant realisation and development in visual classification, as an important contribution to fair play and to ensure that visually impaired athletes can perform at their best in a fair system in Paralympic Sport.”

Bolsinger, Fountoulakis and Mestre were among 18 nominees for the Paralympic Order from the IPC membership.

The nominees were reviewed by the IPC Selection Committee, and the Governing Board then voted on who they believed should receive the Order.

Recipients receive a medal with the IPC logo engraved on it.

Mayor of London Boris Johnson received the prize in 2013, while Vancouver 2010 Organising Committee chairman John Furlong is another past recipient. 

Related stories
November 2013: 
Four pioneers of disabled sport to be honoured with Paralympic Order