|Super Humans at Play!|
The Paralympic Games
I have been very delayed in writing this as a result of computer problems and the fire at my home, although I have been living with these thoughts for some time.
The question is: " Do I think that disabled athletes should compete in the Paralympics; and whether the answer is yes or no, then explain?"
My answer is unreservedly, Yes! The Paralympics have come a long way from that original competition when only 400 athletes competed, to today where the Paralympics rise above the Olympic Games, in my estimation . Having said that, I fully realise that is a very strong claim to make. So what do I base that on?
First, it must be said that London turned out to be a wonderful location. I was one of those people who feared the worst might happen from a security point of view. We remember that the day after the announcement was made London suffered a great tragedy in the form of terrorist bombings. So, full marks go to the whole of the security operation for keeping everyone safe.
Logistically, it seemed to be the perfect place, and all was in readiness ahead of time. Even the labour unions fell into line and put patriotism ahead of personal gains. I know that bonuses were paid, but the unions kept working to keep things running smoothly.
We were treated to wonderful performances from Jessica Ennis, Mo Farah, Usain Bolt, and everyone who competed in the Olympic Games. For me, it was the reason why television was invented. Sitting at home day, after day watching to my heart's delight, I could hardly have been happier. Time travelled at warp speed, and suddenly it was all over, and I sank into a form of depression.
Then, it was the turn of The Paralympic Games. Here, I must confess that I have never watched the Paralympic Games before. Why? I cannot recall a concrete attitude, but probably I thought they would be a poor second to the Great Olympic Games; and that perhaps I would be embarrassed for "those poor people." But, the Olympics had been so good, and I wanted more, so I gave it a try.
I went from being the reluctant watcher to confirmed addict while watching the men's cycling time trials. A Russian competitor came onto the starting point with the help of a crutch for his left side. He had his complete right side leg, but no right arm at all. His left leg was missing up to his hip, and of his left arm he was missing his hand and wrist. I concluded that I could not watch because he was sure to fall. I could not turn away!
The cycle was held upright by a clip. He climbed on board, and with his left arm he inserted it into a modified handle bar that was shaped in the form of an "O". The buzzer sounded and he was off. I winced and gritted my teeth and sunk even further into the couch, while holding my breath. Well, he didn't fall off, and by the time he passed the first marker he was ahead, and he was still ahead at the second marker. "What the fuck!" I sat forward, and by the time he finished he was top of the leader board, and I was standing Up, yelling at the top of my voice, "Fuck! Fuck! Fuck! I don't fucking believe this!"
I have never in my life reacted like that to anything. In that moment I got respect. I suddenly realised that all of these wonderful people were not the usual super humans you had to be to compete in such games, these were out of this world super humans, doing so much more with so much less.
I went on to watch blind men run as fast as they could; blind men play 5-a-side football, and not bump into one another any more than Messi and Ronaldo. I watched Ellie Simmons do water magic; and I watched a man who only had his right arm, less his right hand and wrist win his every contest, even against people who had all four of their extremities. I watched people who had to be lowered into the pool then go off and swim like fish. I watched so much that was unbelievable that I became mesmerized.
I also watched contestants who never had a chance they would win, but who competed and finished. As I sat there and watched, I realised that had I competed in any of the events, I would have surely come in last. That has caused me to look at people who are coping with the loss of limbs or other disabling factors, in a new light. It is simply amazing what the human spirit can accomplish. I have seen it with my own amazed eyes, and I am a believer. What it all boils down to is that we are all humans, and we should be encouraged to do whatever is within our power.
The Olympic Games are the greatest arena for super humans to come together in a spirit of goodwill and challenge; but it's the Paralympics when the athletes from a higher order strut their stuff. No wonder we save the best for last!
Copyright (c) 2012 Eugene Carmichael