John McFall first parastronaut ever in ESA history_cabecera

ESA names first ever paralympic astronaut

Former paralympic sprinter John McFall has been selected by the European Space Agency for its new astronauts team 2022.
McFall, who has been called one of the fastest men in the world over 100 metres and 200 metres in the class of above-the-knee amputees, competed for Great Britain in the 100 metres at the 2008 Summer Paralympics in Beijing, winning the bronze in a time of 13.08 seconds.

Number of candidates that took part in the selection process and the countries they come from. © ESA

With ESA appointment he becomes the first “parastronaut” with a Olympic medal ever in ESAC’s history and opens the door not only of working in Space for other impaired people but perhaps he also opens the door to testing and studying under ingravity conditions any kind of solutions adapted for this segment of the population.
In fact, ESA plans doing a feasability study on him flying to space and what needs to be adapted for people with disabilities.

Announcement_of_ESA_Astronaut_Class_of_2022_family photo
ESA astronauts class of 2022 (Family photo). © ESA

This 2022 class of astronauts has been selected with the inclusion criteria in mind and not only because McFall has been chosen. A 50% of the new astronauts are women.

With no Olympic medals, but studies and experience as an engineer in his portfolio, the Spaniard Pablo Álvarez, also selected for the 2022 astronaut class by ESA, falls, like McFall, into the ‘parastronaut’ consideration.

Get to know the first ever Olympic ‘parastronaut’ in ESA’s history

JohnMcFall-UK VisaParalympic Games 2007_gold_jpg
John McFall after winning gold in the T42 (single amputation above the knee) 200 metres race at the 2007 Visa Paralympic World Cup. Image by Jacklee through Wikimedia Commons. To watch the original photo and read the terms of the lisense, click on the respective links.

Born on 25th April 1981 in Frimely (Surrey, England, UK) the new ESA astronaut is married and willing to start off with his work in the Outer Space.
Besides the bronze medal he won at the Paralympic Games Beijing 2008 he has reached a well fed range of other achievements in sports.

In the 100-metre sprint, McFall subsequently won silver medals at the International Paralympic Committee (IPC) World Championships in 2006 and the Visa Paralympic World Cup in 2007. On 6 July 2007, he was placed third at the Meeting Gaz de France in Paris, part of the ÅF Golden League; and achieved his personal best time (as at 30 May 2008) in the 100 metres of 12.70 seconds by winning silver at the Bayer International Track and Field Competition in Leverkusen on 10 August of that year.

In his other main event, the 200 metres, he achieved a bronze in the 2006 IPC World Championships, and a gold at the 2007 Visa Paralympic World Cup with a competition record time of 26.84 seconds. In September 2007, McFall was champion in both the 100 metres and 200 metres at the International Wheelchair and Amputee Sports Federation (IWAS) World Wheelchair and Amputee Games. He was ranked first in the world in 2007 for the 200 metres, and second for the 100 metres.

Further than a story of courage in sports

In 2000, when he was 19 years old, his right leg was amputated above the knee following a serious motorcycle accident. He took up running again after being fitted with a prosthesis, and participated in his first race in 2004. The following year, he was selected to represent Great Britain at the International Paralympic Committee (IPC) European Championships, and took the bronze medal in the 200 metres.

Image over the headline.- John McFall, the first parastronaut in ESA history. Image by Sebastian ter Burg through Wikimedia Commons. To watch the original image and read the terms of the lisense, click on the respective link.

Related Eastwind links (English edition):

Interview with John McFall (first ever parastronaut in ESA’s history) -video-

EInterview with Pablo Álvarez -video-

Related Eastwind links (Spanish edition):

Un español y una española seleccionados como astronautas por la Agencia Espacial Europea
(Two Spaniards selected as astronauts by ESA)

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