Cwmbran Paralympic hero Chris Hallam dies
6:56pm Sunday 18th August 2013 in News
Chris Hallam MBE, the Paralympic champion from Cwmbran who was an inspiration to athletes across the world, died last Friday.
Friends and colleagues paid tribute to the swimmer and wheelchair racer, who came home with medals at three consecutive Paralympic Games, in 1988, 1992 and 1996 as well as competing at the summer games in Stoke Mandeville in 1984.
Lifelong friend and fellow Paralympian John Harris said: “Quite simply Chris was my hero. For me, Chris was the first of the true professionals in Paralympic sport. He was the consummate athlete who prepared for every event down to the smallest detail. He was a larger than life character that you just wanted to be near to. ‘Shades’, as he was known, was a dear friend and will be sorely missed by everyone who ever knew him. My heart goes out to his family at this sad time.”
Jim Munkley MBE, Disability Sport Wales board member and team member with Chris at the Seoul, Barcelona and Atlanta Games said: “Chris will be remembered as a true legend of Paralympic and Welsh sport. Not only was he a true competitor in every sense of the word, but he was also a great character to be around and to have known.”
Mr Hallam, who was in his late 40s and had been ill with cancer, won the London Marathon twice, setting course records in both 1985 and 1987. He also competed for Team Wales at the Commonwealth Games in Victoria, Canada in 1994.
Tanni Grey-Thompson, who won 11 Paralympic gold medals and now sits in the House of Lords, posted on Twitter: “Really sad news that Chris Hallam has passed away. He was the reason we are where we are in wheelchair racing.”
Mr Hallam “pushed” 400 miles in 11 days around Wales, raising money for the first accessible sports centre in the country. Along with John Harris, he achieved his goal in 1997 by pushing 600 miles in 37 days, raising enough for the centre to be built at the (formerly named ) University of Wales Institude, Cyncoed Campus site.
After retiring from competitive sport, Mr Hallam coached other up-and-coming wheelchair racers.
Disability Sport Wales described Mr Hallam as “an inspiration to athletes and the public alike” who was “always striving to improve his personal performances, whilst seeking to promote and grow the awareness of disability sport at a time when its profile was still relatively low.”