Margaret Maughan, Medal-Winning Wheelchair Athlete, Dies at 91


Her again was ramrod straight, her arms regular and her intention true. When Margaret Maughan pulled again the string on her bow — from her seat in a wheelchair — she shot her means into Paralympic historical past.

Ms. Maughan grew to become Britian’s first gold medalist, profitable in archery, on the world’s first Paralympic Games, held in Rome in 1960. She then received a second gold, in swimming (she had no competitors). Over the years, she received a complete of six medals on the Paralympics, 4 gold and two silver.

Ms. Maughan was 91 when she died on May 20. Nick Webborn, chairman of the British Paralympic Association, introduced her demise. No additional particulars had been supplied.

After profitable her first gold medals, Ms. Maughan remained a fervent promoter of and participant within the Paralympic Games, a agency believer that sports activities may very well be a useful assist in rehabilitation.

She competed in archery and swimming, in addition to dartchery, a mix of darts and archery, and garden bowls, which is like alley bowling with balls that aren’t spherical however oddly formed. She skipped the 1964 Games however participated in 1968, 1972, 1976 and 1980 earlier than retiring.

Ms. Maughan misplaced using her legs in a automotive accident in Malawi in 1959. After surgical procedure, she was flown home to England and handled at Stoke Mandeville Hospital in Buckinghamshire, northwest of London. The hospital’s spinal accidents middle, which grew to become world famend caring for wounded troopers throughout World War II, was run by Ludwig Guttman, a dynamic and progressive neurologist who had fled Nazi Germany.

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He used sports activities as remedy, a revolutionary idea on the time, and in 1948 he organized the Stoke Mandeville Games — primarily an archery contest — at which 16 sufferers in wheelchairs competed in opposition to injured veterans, additionally utilizing wheelchairs, who got here from one other hospital on the Stoke Mandeville grounds. The occasion, which coincided with the opening of the 1948 Olympic Games in London, is taken into account the beginning of the Paralympic motion, and Dr. Guttman is taken into account the motion’s father.

He organized different such video games yearly. They had been held outdoors Britain for the primary time in 1960, when greater than 400 disabled athletes — together with Ms. Maughan — from 23 nations met in Rome, simply after the Olympics. The 1960 Games later grew to become recognized, retroactively, as the primary Paralympics. They have expanded significantly from there, with the newest Games, held in Rio in 2016, drawing greater than 4,000 rivals from 159 nations.

Margaret Maughan was born on June 19, 1928, in Much Hoole, Lancashire, to Madge (Holt) Maughan, a instructor, and Charlie Maughan, a miner. She educated as a instructor on the University of Edinburgh, then discovered work as a home economics instructor in Jamaica.

She finally moved to Africa to show within the British protectorate of Nyasaland (now Malawi). Six months after she arrived, a automotive accident left her with a damaged again, and she or he was paralyzed from the waist down.

At Stoke Mandeville she met Dr. Guttman, whom she thought to be each a stern taskmaster and an inspiration. She advised him at one level that she was bored and annoyed. A troublesome disciplinarian, he advised her to get a grip and look on the constructive facet — regardless that she would by no means stroll once more, he stated, she may do many issues together with her life.

And he launched her to archery. She discovered she had an innate expertise for the game and joined the month-to-month competitions. After she was discharged from the hospital, she moved in together with her mother and father in Lancashire and joined a neighborhood archery membership.

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Several months later, Dr. Guttman referred to as her again to Stoke Mandeville to check out for the British group at what would come to be referred to as the 1960 Paralympics in Rome. To her shock, she was invited to hitch the squad of 42 women and men.

Those first video games had been almost an afterthought, nothing just like the extremely choreographed, televised spectacles of in the present day. Few plans had been made to accommodate individuals in wheelchairs. When the gamers flew to Rome, they needed to be placed on the aircraft by forklift. Their sleeping quarters in Rome had been constructed on stilts, so that they needed to be carried as much as their bunks by troopers.

Scores weren’t introduced in actual time. Only when Ms. Maughan was driving the bus again to her bunk was she knowledgeable that she was wanted on the medal ceremony.

“Even as I was wheeling onto the podium,” she advised The Daily Telegraph in 2011, “I didn’t know which medal it was. There was no time for tears when they gave me the gold and played the national anthem. I was too bewildered.”

Despite the chaos, Ms. Maughan described the expertise, and the camaraderie, as “marvelous.” She was hooked for all times.

She was all the time modest about her accomplishments. But as a legend amongst Paralympians, Ms. Maughan was given the glory of lighting the flame on the opening ceremony of the 2012 Paralympic Games in London.

The second was “very emotional and impressive,” she stated. Referring to her first win, 52 years earlier, she added, “Who would have thought that my gold medal, which has been kept in a bag in the drawer, would have brought me such fame?”

She continued educating home economics and likewise remained energetic in her native archery membership, the place she served as a volunteer. She additionally helped set up the Stoke Paraplegic Athletic Club in Buckinghamshire.

She is survived by a youthful sister.

“Although her passing is extremely sad,” Mr. Webborn of the British Paralympic Association stated in an announcement, “the fact that she lived until the age of 91 is testament to the work of Sir Ludwig Guttman, who transformed the care of people with spinal cord injury, and that through sport, people with disabilities can enjoy rich and fulfilling lives.”