Steve Harknett has a decade of experience in the field of disability, mostly through projects in Cambodia and East Africa. His proudest achievement was to set up a grassroots organization called Disability Development Services Pursat (DDSP) in Cambodia’s Pursat province. Today, it is one of the country’s most respected local disability NGOs. Furthermore, he was able to successfully hand it over to local management, which isn’t common in Cambodia.
It’s only recently that Steve turned to sport. ‘Olympic Fever’ in the UK is one reason, inspiring Steve since 2005 when London was announced as the 2012 host city. Another impetus was his observation of the role sport can play in development. In Cambodia, Steve launched a 10K road-race event, the ‘Pursat River Run.’ He added disability focused events (races for persons with amputations, wheelchair races), noting that “it was great to see how persons with disabilities derived social benefits from their participation.” Hundreds of people (with and without disabilities) have run the Pursat River Run every year for the last five years, and for many of them it was their first road-race, which introduced them to the joys of running.
Steve earned his Bachelor’s degree in Development Studies, and Master’s degrees in Disability Studies in Developing Countries and in International Sport Management. His dissertation compared sport-in-development in Uganda with a social sport project in a deprived part of northeast England.
Steve’s own sporting background is one of “a mediocre but enthusiastic former school cross-country runner, and now a mediocre but enthusiastic veteran road-runner.”