I wrote everyday during the London 2012 Olympics. I didn’t do so during the Paralympics, mainly because, and this is unusual for me, I was almost lost for words…
I hadn’t intended to write an article a day during the Olympics, but it just happened to tie in with something else I was doing at the time, so off I went. I have been writing about goal achievement and self improvement for years, and since I’ve been a fan of the Olympics for over 35 years, it was no hardship!
When it was over, I came back down from riding that wave – wondering if the Paralympics would have the same effect, and doubting that they would.
I was wrong…
At first my attention was drawn by the disabilities, which is what happens to most people when they see disabled sport. It didn’t take long for me to get past that though, and to view the sport as just that, elite sport.
Then I found myself being just amazed at what these athletes were doing. Although I was viewing the events as a sports fan, it wasn’t the same as the Olympics – it was *more*.
They were on the same sporting journey of goal setting, hard work and achievement with possible failure, but they were doing it with the extra challenge of their disabilities.
I didn’t know what to start writing about first. It’s a problem I rarely have (if you’re a long time reader you’ll probably agree!) and it just demonstrated the impact it had on me.
I found myself shaking my head in wonder as I watched many of the events.
How about the cyclists with one leg?
Swimmers with no arms, who have to use their head to hit the wall?
The one legged high jump?
The blind long jump?
Some of them had been born with their disability, so for them they have never known anything different.
Others have had terrible accidents or illnesses, or suffered in military service or at the hands of terrorists. They have come on all sorts of journeys, as did the Olympians. The end result for both sets of athletes was the London 2012 Games, their chance to test themselves against the best in the world.
Packed venues for both, and an unprecedented public awareness of the Paralympics. The media coverage helped, and here in the UK we were lucky to get extensive TV coverage. Many countries, notably the US, only had a few paltry hours of highlights.
I suspect future coverage will change after these London Games. The networks will realise what they missed, and the output will increase. In fact I think that an inevitable progression would be for the broadcasting bidding process to have to include both events, much like the hosting process already does.
Back to the Paralympians themselves. Next time you go swimming, try it with no arms, and not just on your back either! Then imagine bashing your head into the wall at the end of the length. (Don’t actually do it though, it will hurt!)
Stand on one leg, then try hopping forward for 10 metres with a high jump at the end. You’d better try that one on grass though – you *will* fall over.
Then cover your eyes and imagine running at a full speed sprint down a track and jumping into a long jump, totally blind.
Next time you get on a bike, see how far you get just using one leg.
When you’ve done all those things, take a moment to appreciate swimming with both arms, cycling with both legs, running with your eyes open.
The Olympics were, for me, a joy.
The Paralympics were, for me, a joy.
Further integration of the two events can’t come quickly enough if you ask me, and next time I don’t expect to be quite so lost for words!
The lessons I mentioned of goal setting, hard work and commitment could be seen in both, but the Paralympics gave the added lesson of appreciation.
from the athletes that they had the chance to follow sporting dreams and in many cases give meaning to their lives. Appreciation from me of the abundance we have – abundance of ability and opportunity that we all too often take for granted.
That’s why I’ll remember the London 2012 Paralympics as The Olympics with an
added layer of ‘wow.’
Ok, that’s it for now, let me know what you think, and please share, like, tweet etc if you enjoyed the article.
‘Til next time,
Health & Happiness,
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