With the exception of Sainsbury’s moronic choice to feature David Beckham as the face of the Paralympic games, the lead-up to the games themselves was brilliant. Showcasing several of Team GB’s best and brightest Paralympian (and no, several news reporters I’ve heard in the last few days, they’re not Para-Olympians), even cheekily saying “Thanks for the warm up” in response to the London 2012 games, where, for the first time a double-amputee competed alongside the best and brightest in the hopes of an Olympic medal.
I’m glad these men and women are coming to the public’s attention. I feel in the minority as I watched the Paralympics from Beijing four years ago. I love the different events. I love the flat-out brutality of wheelchair rugby (imagine people hitting each other out of wheelchairs, on purpose, being good sport). I love goal ball and how silent the arena is so the competitors can hear the ball. The competitors are just amazing.
By now, those of you who follow sport should be aware of who Oscar Pistorius is now. He’s the aforementioned double amputee who competed in the men’s 400m and 4x400m races in the Olympic games a few weeks ago. He’s done so much to raise the profile of Paralympic athletes, even if through his struggles to compete with those who still have all of their limbs. In several articles, I’ve seen people commenting, saying that Oscar gets an advantage from using his artificial limbs. There have been studies either way, proving that although his leg swing is faster than other athletes as his lower legs are lighter, he has to start more slowly than the rest of an “able bodied” field. I’m so glad Pistorius was allowed to compete in London, he was a real credit to professionalism in sport. After his 400m individual heat, he spoke to EVERY journalist who wanted to interview him. He left the stadium more than an hour after his heat.
Another of my favourite athletes who should have a bigger presence is Ellie Simmonds, a British swimmer. Ellie has my eternal jealousy, she’s 3 years younger than me and has already achieved so much. She was the youngest competitor at the Beijing Olympics, at just 13 years old, and put in an amazing performance in her category (S6) and won 2 gold medals. She also puts herself over so well in interviews, is very humble and respects her field. Absolutely amazing.
I love the paralympics as it truly throws into focus how much you can achieve if you don’t allow the barriers placed in front of you to get in the way. Each and every one of them is inspiring.
I hope you’re all paying close attention to the true heroes of these games, not the tosser with the expensive haircut on the Sainsbury’s ads.