I used the London 2012 Olympics as a prompt for many articles about goal achievement and self improvement. This time I want to go back to the last London Olympics in 1948…
I saw a couple of great true story drama documentaries on TV around the Olympics in 1948. One featured a rowing victory for a British crew, but another was built around something that happened on the day of the Opening Ceremony…
The ceremony in ‘48 was nothing compared to the 2012 effort – back then Britain was still reeling from World War II, and could barely afford to host the Games at all. On the day of the ceremony though, another event took place – the first ever Stoke Mandeville Games.
They were the idea of the Director of the National Spinal Injury Centre there, Ludwig Guttmann.
It didn’t help matters that he was German. A Jewish refugee German, but German nonetheless, and with his radical ideas, it was combination that caused a lot of friction.
Up to that point, soldiers with spinal injuries were kept virtually hidden away, heavily sedated and viewed as a drain on the country.
Guttmann was having none of that, and believed that these patients could be revitalised and reintegrated into society. He used two prongs to his attack…
The first was to instil a sense of hope and belief into the men, and the second was to use sport, both as a physical aid and as a channel for that hope and belief. Guttmann was relentless in the face of bureaucratic obstacles, and by the time those first games took place, people were starting to come round to his ideas.
Four years later the games had grown to 130 international competitors, and this got the attention of the International Olympic Committee. In 1960, his Stoke Mandeville Games were officially held in tandem with the Rome Olympics.
For his work Guttmann received the OBE and CBE, and he was knighted by The Queen in 1966. In the run up to the London 2012 Olympics and Paralympics, a statue of him was unveiled at the Stoke Mandeville unit.
A bust of him will now be taken to every Summer and Winter Paralympics, and the IOC are considering lighting the flame every time at Stoke Mandeville.
Wow, what a story!
Think of all the hard work he put in to qualify as a doctor. Think of the trauma of having to flee his country with his family in fear of what would happen if he stayed.
Think of his resilience in the face of obstruction, both by officialdom and the very people he was trying to help, and think of how he overcame both to create something special.
Something which allows disabled people to aim for the Olympic stage in the same way that able bodied people can.
Your goal may not be as groundbreaking as Ludwig Guttmann’s, but think of his story and use it as inspiration to take the next step towards whatever your own goal may be.
Ok, let me know what you think!
‘Til Next Time,
Health & Happiness,
P.S. Don’t forget you can grab my motivational book while it’s still dirt cheap on kindle! ‘Transform Your Life in 21 Days!’
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