Photo: Tommy HindleyMonique Kalkman with Brad Parks and ITF President Francesco Ricci Bitti
Four-time Paralympic Tennis medallist Monique Kalkman received the Brad Parks Award for 2012 during Thursday's Paralympic Tennis Event Draw Ceremony at Eton Manor.
Parks, the founder of wheelchair tennis in 1976, was among the special guests at the Draw Ceremony along with ITF President Francesco Riccci Bitti, who paid tribute to Kalkman's many achievements before Parks presented the Dutch former player with the Award.
Kalkman was the first Paralympic women’s singles gold medallist for wheelchair tennis when the sport achieved full medal status at the 1992 Barcelona Games. Kalkman also won the women’s doubles in Barcelona with Chantal Vandierendonck, the player she beat in the women’s singles final and the woman she finished runner-up to in 1998 when wheelchair tennis was a demonstration sport at the Seoul Paralympics.
Kalkman was a silver medallist in the women’s singles in 1996 in Atlanta, where she and Vandierendonck won the women’s doubles gold medal for the second successive Games.
She is the only only female athlete to win Paralympic gold medals in two sports, having also won gold in table tennis at the 1984 Paralympic Games before switching to wheelchair tennis in 1986.
Outside of the Paralympic Games, Kalkman was also the inaugural NEC Wheelchair Tennis Masters Champion, winning the first of two successive titles in 1994, and was ITF World Champion four years in a row from 1992 to 1995.
The Brad Parks Award is presented annually to an individual or organisation that has made a significant contribution to wheelchair tennis on an international basis. Usually this contribution will be over several years. Kalkman has made an invaluable contribution to the sport over the last 22 years and has continued to actively promote wheelchair tennis since retiring as a player for health reasons, including assisting with wheelchair tennis camps.
"I would like to give special thanks to Brad, he has been a great inspiration for me. What Ludwig Guttmann has done for the Paralympic Movement, you have done for wheelchair tennis," said Kalkman. "It gives me a lot of pleasure to give back to wheelchair tennis because it has given so much to me.
Drawing on a reference to the closing musical number of Wednesday's Opening Ceremony, Kalkman added: "During the Opening Ceremony last night you heard the phrase 'I am what I am'. For me. I what I am today because of wheelchair tennis."
In 2010 Kalkman was one of six Wheelchair Tennis Ambassadors, along with wheelchair tennis founder Brad Parks, appointed by the ITF. Kalkman will receive the Brad Parks Award from Parks himself during the Draw Ceremony for the London 2012 Paralympic Tennis Event on 30 August at Eton Manor in the Olympic Park.