Three sporting legends welcomed into the Stoke Mandeville Hall of Fame

Oct 14, 2022 | Blog

Three British sporting legends were inducted into the Stoke Mandeville Hall of Fame on the 15 September 2022. The ceremony was conducted by Martin McElhatton, Chief Executive of WheelPower, and formed part of the Gala Dinner at the Inter Spinal Unit Games, an event which introduces recently paralysed people to sport.

The Stoke Mandeville Hall of Fame was introduced in 2003 at the reopening Ceremony for the new Stoke Mandeville Stadium with the aim honouring outstanding athletes and people who have made a remarkable contribution to wheelchair sport.

The three proud inductees were:

Jonathan Coggan MBE - Jonathan is a 5 times Paralympian in wheelchair rugby culminating in winning the Gold Medal for ParalympicsGB at the 2020 Tokyo Paralympics. He is also a 5 times European Champion and has competed for Great Britain in 5 World and 8 European Championships.  Jonathan is a highly respected member of the team and is still competing at the highest level.

Di Coates MBE – Di is one of Britain’s most successful Paralympic air rifle shooters, having won three Paralympic Gold medals in Seoul in 1988, Barcelona in 1992 and Atlanta in 1996 plus three Silver and two Bronze Medals along with many other titles and medals during her distinguished career. Having competed at eight consecutive Paralympic Games between 1984 and 2012, London 2012 was Di's eighth and final Paralympic appearance, a remarkable achievement for any athlete. Since retiring Di has coached with Disability Shooting GB and has helped many aspiring Paralympians.

Tony Sainsbury OBE – Tony was a member of the Manchester Disabled Athletes sports club and brought teams to Games here at Stoke Mandeville in the 1970’s. He joined the WheelPower Board (the British Paraplegic Sports Society as it was known then) and was involved in wheelchair sport, particularly wheelchair basketball at all levels and on many Committees helping to develop the sport around the world. Tony Sainsbury was the chef de mission (team manager) of the British Paralympic team at five Paralympic Games and was the chef de mission of the Independent Paralympic Athletes Team at the 2016 Summer Paralympic Games in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. He has also received the Paralympic Order, the highest honour given by the International Paralympic Committee for his contribution to the Paralympics. 

Jonathan Coggan MBE said “I’m privileged and honoured to be the first wheelchair rugby player to be added to the Stoke Mandeville hall of fame. Our success in Tokyo shined a light on our sport, and I want to build upon the success we have had to help more people to get involved. Wheelchair sport can have a really positive impact on your life so whilst you are at the Games make sure you try everything you can and you never know where these experiences will take you.”

Di Coates MBE said “After joining my local sports club and discovering I had an eye for shooting, I didn’t look back. Playing sport is good for you physically but also mentally. To succeed as a Paralympic athlete, you have you have to enjoy what you do and have fun along the way.”

Tony Sainsbury OBE said “It’s a great honour to be back here at Stoke Mandeville Stadium where it all started for me. Today I was watching the Games with same enthusiasm, determination and commitment that I saw and felt in 1975, and all these memories came flooding back to me. Whatever we all choose to do in life, you’ve got to make the most of it.”

WheelPower Chairman, Rob Wilson said “The Stoke Mandeville Hall of Fame was introduced in 2003 to honour the athletes and administrators who have made an outstanding contribution to wheelchair sport in this country. It carries on the long tradition of a roll of honour, which dates back to the birth of the Paralympic movement at the Stadium in the 1940s. Tony, Di and Jonathan have all contributed so much to wheelchair and Paralympic Sport during their careers and I am delighted that we are inducting them into the Hall of Fame.”

To find out more about Inclusive Sports: Inclusive Sports | Stoke Mandeville Stadium