ParaCanoeist Bob Balk receives highest Paralympic honor

Dec. 18, 2013, 11:09 p.m. (ET)


Bob Balk (front row, 2nd from right) with the 2013 U.S. ParaCanoe World Championship Team.

U.S. Paralympics announced that that U.S. Paralympian Bob Balk, received the 2013 Paralympic Order from the International Paralympic Committee (IPC), the highest honor a person can receive in the Paralympic Movement at the 2013 Paralympic Awards Gala in Athens, Greece.

Balk (Moravia, N.Y.) is a member of the of the USA Canoe/Kayak Board of Directors, where he represents the ParaCanoe discipline. He still competes in ParaCanoe, finishing 8th in V-1 TA at the 2013 World Championships. On the international stage, he is best known for winning Paralympic medals in cross-country skiing and pentathlon and then serving as Chairperson of the International Paralympic Committee's Athletes' Council.

"I am humbled and honored to have received the Paralympic Order, this is the greatest honor I have ever received," Balk said. "I am among many others who have given so much for the Paralympic Movement, and I am very thankful for being recognized for my contribution. This honor is even more significant to me as I was nominated by the IPC Advisory Committee for my service to the athletes. As a member of the Paralympic Order, I am hopeful to continue to serve the movement in even more significant ways."

Bob Balk is a six-time Paralympian who won six medals between 1994 and 2006 at both summer and winter Games. In 2004, he was elected to the IPC Athletes' Council and five years later was elected Chairperson. During his four years as Chair, he oversaw the first Paralympic Reunion event in London, the first Athlete Leadership Summit, the launch of the International Paralympians Association, and ensured that there was an athlete representative on all IPC committees. Additionally, he has served the U.S. Olympic Committee's Athletes Advisory Council from 2002-2013, was a member of the USOC's Governance and Ethics Task Force in 2003, member of the 2016 Chicago Olympic bid committee, and a founding member of the USOC Paralympic Advisory Committee from 2011-2013.

"Congratulations to Bob, this tremendous honor is a testament to all he's done to positively impact the Paralympic Movement," said U.S. Paralympics President Jim Benson. "His unrelenting commitment, long-time service and focus on athletes have truly bettered the movement as a whole."

In addition to Balk, three others were awarded the Paralympic Order at the event. Michael Barredo of the Philippines, former President of International Blind Sports Federation; Duncan Campbell of Canada, founder of wheelchair rugby; and Jonquil Solt of Great Britain, former Chairperson of the IPC Equestrian Committee and FEI Para-Equestrian Technical Committee.

All of the recipients have made important contributions to the Paralympic Movement and have illustrated the Paralympic ideals either in the sporting world or via outstanding services to the cause of the Movement.

For more information, please contact Beth Bourgeois, U.S. Paralympics, at or 719-866-2039.