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Injury, Pain and Risk in the Paralympic Movement

The Suffering Body in Sport

ISBN: 978-1-78756-069-7, eISBN: 978-1-78756-068-0

Publication date: 24 July 2019



The intent of this chapter is to examine the historical and present-day intersections of injury, impairment, pain and risk-taking in the Paralympic Movement. While much has been written about injuries that end an athlete’s career, far less consideration has been given to how an injury might launch a sports career. In this chapter, I explore the experiences of athletes for whom injury and sports participation are fundamentally entwined.


To accomplish this, I draw on sociological literature on sport and injury, psychological literature on identities and sport retirement and feminist disability theories. The discussion is further enriched by interviews with Paralympic athletes and informed by own experience as a researcher, guide and volunteer in the Paralympic Movement.


This work illustrates how systems of representation intersect to (re)produce identities. This includes demonstrating how some individuals use sport as a means of claiming an athletic identity while distancing themselves from devalued disabled identities and the subsequent impact this can have on their psycho-social well-being.


This chapter demonstrates how sociologists of sports can engage with critical disability scholarship to deepen understandings of how and why individuals with impairments enter into sport and their experiences therein.



Bundon, A. (2019), "Injury, Pain and Risk in the Paralympic Movement", The Suffering Body in Sport (Research in the Sociology of Sport, Vol. 12), Emerald Publishing Limited, Leeds, pp. 71-87.



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