Former Deaflympics President breaks four-year ‘silence’

 Image of Craig Crowley

The current Honorary President of UK Deaf Sport (UKDS) and former President of International Committee of Sports for the Deaf (ICSD), Craig Crowley, breaks his four-year silence with Deaflympics taking place in Samsun, Turkey this summer. Craig describes his international leadership role as “the most challenging job in Deaf Sport” as he reminisces on his four-year term during the most tumultuous time in ICSD history.

During his four-year term as President of Deaflympics 2009-2013, Craig Crowley MBE described the prestigious position at the helm of the International Committee of Sport for the Deaf (ICSD) as “one of the toughest but best jobs in Deaf Sport”.

Craig became first UK citizen and Deaflympian medallist to be elected ICSD President in October 2009, after six years with UK Deaf Sport Board as Chair/President following a stellar playing and coaching career in football, tennis and cricket. 

“I have been involved in high performance elite and strategy sport most of my working life and the chance to lead ICSD was a once in a lifetime opportunity.”

He described it as:

“One of the best jobs in Deaf Sport. I believe that ICSD had been on a developing journey over a long period of time and I wanted to accelerate that journey when I became its President. I feel I had done that and hopefully I did so with honesty and integrity throughout my time there.

“It’s a role you take on wholeheartedly because you believe in the impact and success that Deaflympics can have on the morale of elite Deaf athletes in the world of Deaf Sport.”

The highlight of his time as President was, without doubt, saving the Sofia 2013 Deaflympics and ensuring the legacy continued for the 2015 and 2017 Deaflympics under his term.

“It was a life changing experience personally and professionally incorporating everything learned from both my sporting and administrative career and for ICSD in terms of having the long and proud tradition of Deaflympics intact after the most difficult term ever experienced by any ICSD President which saw the cancellations of Vysoké Tatry (Slovakia) 2011, Athens (Greece) 2013 and Vancouver (Canada) 2015.

“To deal with all this was not what I was expecting to inherit in taking on the world Deaf leading position.”

Craig freely admitted there were numerous challenges in taking on the role, particularly when it came to key decisions affecting the organisation and athletes.

“The hardest challenge was constantly dealing with funding (where could it be sourced) and recognition (how to achieve this worldwide).”

He continued:

“The contribution from the International Olympic Committee (IOC) to Deaflympic Sport was always appreciated and hugely grateful for it, whilst also acknowledging and dealing with the fact that ICSD had less money in real terms compared to the Paralympics.”

With the ICSD President Dr Valery Rekhledev set to be re-elected in the coming months, Crowley believes his 2013 successor will need to embody certain key qualities.

“I would say it is essential to have an insight into how the IOC works and to have a fundamental understanding of the systems likely to produce success on the world stage, as well as understanding and having a genuine partnership with International Paralympic Committee with a robust strategy going forward.”

Summing up, Craig said:

“Nothing ahead can ever replicate or replace the work I have done at ICSD. Four years later, I can honestly say I have missed working with the Board, Technical Directors team, fellow member delegates and the talented, committed and superb Deaflympic athletes all over the world.

“I would like to thank each and every one who enabled the four-year term to be a success in the ICSD’s most difficult and lifesaving journey. Evidence of this is standing the test of time by seeing the ICSD and its athletes continuing to keep Deaf sports alive.”

Craig regrets he won’t be attending the prestigious Deaflympics in Samsun this summer as he recovers from a recent operation, instead he is sending a goodwill message for all delegates and athletes to do their utmost at the Games. UK Deaf Sport believes Craig is a fighter, and he will return a much more determined and focused on helping to get Deaflympics recognised not only here in the UK but the world all over.

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