Robert Steadward

Identity area

Type of entity


Authorized form of name

Robert Steadward

Parallel form(s) of name

Standardized form(s) of name according to other rules

Other form(s) of name

  • Bob Steadward
  • Robert Daniel Steadward

Identifiers for corporate bodies

Description area

Dates of existence



Robert Steadward is a professor, sports scientist, author, coach, community leader, and founding President of the International Paralympic Committee (IPC). Steadward was born on May 26, 1946 in Eston, Saskatchewan to Danny and Irene Steadward. Steadward studied Dentistry at the University of Alberta before switching fields to earn a bachelor degree from the Faculty of Physical Education at the University of Alberta. He went on to earn a Masters degree in Physical Education from the University of Alberta, and a PhD from the University of Oregon.

Steadward joined the faculty of the University of Alberta in 1970, specializing in exercise physiology, anatomy, and athletic injuries. Steadward founded the Research and Training Centre for the Physically Disabled at the University of Alberta (now known as The Steadward Centre for Personal & Physical Achievement) in 1978. The center became a multi-disability fitness, research, and lifestyle center that continues to be internationally recognized as a model in the field of independent fitness training for people with disabilities. Steadward retired from the University of Alberta in 2001 as Professor Emeritus.

Steadward began his experience working with disabled athletes and adaptive sports in 1960 by coaching the wheelchair basketball club, the Edmonton Handicaddies. Steadward continued to coached basketball, swim, and track teams for the Paralympic Sports Association, and coached the Canadian national team at the 1972 Paralympic Games, 1973 International Stoke Mandeville Games, and the Jamaican Pan-American Games. He was also responsible for organizing the Canadian team during the 1976 Olympics for the Physically Disabled. Steadward was the founder, president, and chairman of the Canadian Sports Fund for the Physically Disabled from 1979-1989, served as President of the Alberta Wheelchair Sports Association from 1971-1975, and volunteered for various roles with the Canadian Paralympic Committee, such as coach, chef de mission, national governor, treasurer, and president.

Steadward first became involved in organizing competitive sporting events for athletes with disabilities in 1968, with the development of the first national championships for wheelchair sports, which was held in Edmonton. He became interested in helping to establish a central organization responsible for the international development of sport opportunities and competitions for disabled athletes in 1980, after attending the Olympics for the Physically Disabled in Arnhem, Netherlands. Previous to the foundation of the International Paralympic Committee, Paralympics Games were run by a conglomeration of four different organizations: the International Sport Organization for the Disabled (ISOD), the International Stoke Mandeville Games Federation (ISMGF), the International Blind Sports Federation (IBSA), and the Cerebral Palsy International Sports and Recreation Association (CP ISRA). Steadward worked with the Canadian Federation of Sport Organizations for the Disabled (CFSOD) to develop a new centralized democratic model for the structure of disabled sport. Throughout the 1980s Steadward forged relationships with various disability sports organizations and sought support for the formation of a single organization to represent disabled athletes at the highest level of competition. Finally, in 1989 the International Paralympic Committee was formed with Steadward as the first President. One of Steadward's first goals for the IPC was to pursue recognition from, and eventual integration with, the International Olympic Committee (IOC). As a result of Steadward's communications with the IOC, demonstration events for athletes with disabilities started being included in the Olympics, and some competitions, such as the 2002 Commonwealth Games, started to fully integrated events for people with disabilities into their sporting program. Some other IPC successes that took place under Steadward's leadership include: developing the organizational and committee structure for the IPC, growing the number of IPC membership nations to 172, and formally connecting the IPC and IOC with a memorandum of understanding in 2000. Steadward stepped down as President and became Honorary President for Life of the IPC in 2001.

Steadward is the author of over 150 publications and has delivered over 300 speeches and presentations. He also was responsible for creating the Vista '93, a disability sport conference that brought together over 160 sports experts and laid the foundations for the ensuring Paralympic Congresses. Steadward has been recognized as a pioneer in the field of disability sport and has received several honours and awards celebrating his contributions and achievements including but not limited to: Alberta Sports Hall of Fame (1984), Order of Canada- officer (1999), Terr Fox Hall of Fame (2002), Queen's Golden Jubilee Medal (2002), Edmontonian of the Century (2004), Canada's Sport Hall of Fame (2007), Alberta Order of Excellence (2010), and Oder of Canada - Companion (2020).


Edmonton, Alberta

Legal status

Functions, occupations and activities

Mandates/sources of authority

Internal structures/genealogy

General context

Relationships area

Access points area


Control area

Authority record identifier


Institution identifier

Rules and/or conventions used


Level of detail

Dates of creation, revision and deletion

Created March 7, 2023 by SD.




Government of Alberta. "The Alberta Order of Excellence: Robert D. Steadward". Last accessed March 7, 2023.
Canadian Paralympic Committee. "Robert Steadward, builder". Last accessed March 7, 2023.
Peterson, Cynthia. "Robert Daniel Steadward". The Canadian Encyclopedia. December 30, 2020.

Maintenance notes