I promised I wouldn’t write for a while since my most recent stint of the ‘Olympic Series’ but it would be remiss of me not to mention the Paralympics. Unfortunately, I haven’t been able to watch it as much as the Olympics Games. I was on holiday during the Olympics so I had the time and opportunity to watch; now I’m back at work with the usual busy schedule so it’s mainly highlights that I catch.
However, it doesn’t matter what the event is, or who the athletes are, the young women and men who make up the Paralympics teams from around the world are awesome.
Not only are they great athletes, who work hard to get to this point, but they have different and unique challenges compared with Olympic athletes. In fact, some compete at the same or better level than Olympians.
The Paralympics and the individual Paralympians also play an important role in helping to transform attitudes towards people with disabilities and a more inclusive community. Many of them have had to fight battles of assumed ability around disability. Being a Paralympian shows how much they have excelled.
Well done to the individuals as well as all those who support them; their families, the grassroots sporting clubs, schools and professionals. All have played a part in helping them get to the point of being able to be the best they can be and represent their respective countries at the pinnacle of their chosen sport.
Through their ability, their spirit, their determination, their adaptability they help show the rest of us what is possible.
It is a terrific and powerful way of helping to change attitudes towards disability.
There’s one other aspect of Paralympians that I must comment on especially as many of my blogs are consumed with what’s wrong in sport.
The Paralympics represent everything that’s good about sport. The competitors I’ve seen in highlights packages and news reports are just so refreshing. There are no ‘superstar’ attitudes, no made-up stories about Rio robberies, no prima donnas. Just athletes competing and enjoying their sport to the very best of their ability.
Each of them has an incredible backstory for the likes of you and me. Here are a few I wanted to share:
- Jess Gallagher from Australia who has now won medals in both the summer and winter Paralympics.
- Alexander Triput from Belarus who won Gold in javelin for visually impaired athletes at Athens 2004, missed out in Beijing, was injured for London – but he has just won Silver after a fall from a fourth floor while fixing a TV antenna saw him end-up in a wheelchair!
- Xu Qing from China who has won ten Paralympic medals including three at Rio. China has outshone the rest of the world at these Paralympics.
- Iraq war veteran, Melissa Stockwell from the USA, who won the Bronze in the women’s triathlon.
- And finally, there is an excellent piece here from a former Paralympian, Richard Nicholson, who competed in the Paralympics from 1996 to 2012 who writes about how the Paralympics changed his life. It’s a long read but well worth it.
Paralympians show the rest of us what it takes to do things to the best of our ability. All power to them!