What the Paralympics Taught Us

Wheelchair Rugby (google images)

Disabled sports are hardly ever advertised or televised and it is generally assumed someone with a disability cannot partake in the same activities as everyone else. As we are all now aware this could not be further from the truth. Wheelchair basketball is one of the most violent mainstream sports, rivalled only by wheelchair rugby. I cannot think of any other instance where a disabled person is left to fend for themselves after being knocked out of their wheelchair.

You watch with awe as these athletes pushing themselves to the limit, not just to prove to the world they are as capable, if not more capable than most of their able-bodied peers, but to explore the limits of the human body.

We were watching the blind football, where the crowd has to remain perfectly silent unless a goal is scored so the players can hear the soft jingle of the ball. It was truly amazing. I can’t kick a ball when I can see the thing let alone have such ball control as these athletes did – and they can’t see a thing!

To me, and every other able-bodied person, it is almost inconceivable that the achievements attained by the Paralympic teams are possible. In some ways I believe they deserve more recognition than the Olympians since they overcome barriers which without their drive and determination would see them struggling to survive in our cut-throat modern society.

Ellie Simmonds – Paralympic swimmer (google images)

Not only do these Paralympic games teach the world that disability or illness should never stop you from reaching your dreams, they have provided an excellent block upon which foundations of understanding can be built. I agree that there are some things about disability which should never be said, but sometimes political correctness goes to far and prevents able-bodied people from accepting the disabilities of others and treating them as ‘normal’ human beings in fear of offending. I’m sure, in reality, that those with disabilities would much prefer their status as ‘wheelchair user’ or ‘MS patient’ etc does not define their identity. They are so much more than their disability and the Paralympic games have opened a gate for true acceptance, respect and unity.

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The Friendly Games: Catching Olympic Fever

Today I felt a bit lost. No olympics. It’s only been on for what, two weeks? Yet it seems as though it’s been on forever and now its all over it feels like nothing will be the same again. I’m ashamed to say but I caught the olympic bug and now I’ve got post-olympic blues.

At first, the olympic games didn’t bother me, in fact I couldn’t wait until they were over. I saw the arrival of the olympic flame and wondered what the big fuss about, and then the journey of the flame seemed to go on forever. And what with the over-commercialised nature of the games, missiles on the apartment roof and the anxiety concerning security it didn’t appear as though it would be a successful games and that made me quite nervous.

By the time of the opening ceremony I only really watched it so I wasn’t missing anything the rest of the world were paying attention to. Even after that I didn’t think I’d be watching a lot of the actual sport. Monday morning came and seeing as nothing else was on TV I put the olympics on. For the next two weeks it was practically all I watched.

London 2012 has been called the ‘friendly games’ and from what I’ve seen that’s the truth, its made me proud to be British. Of course the media are only going to show the good bits and not broadcast any hiccups in the organisation or events, but don’t kill my thunder just yet. 🙂

Why should the community feeling only going to last for two weeks? Perhaps it’s my naivety but watching the closing ceremony shows how the world would be if we accepted our differences and celebrated them. It’s almost as if everything else was more or less forgotten for two weeks. (Not always a good thing as the earth doesn’t stop but does give an insight into what can happen when everyone gets along, cheers each other on and enjoys being together). Honestly, I’ll miss the olympics and the smiles of absolute joy on the faces of the gold medalists.

Anyway, I now know what the papers say about the opening ceremony, the closing ceremony and the olympics in general but what do you all think? Opening or closing ceremony – Atkinson or Idle? Most importantly, was it a success?

Equal Pay

Gilles Simon commented last week at Wimbledon that women shouldn’t get paid the same as men in prize money. This was firmly rebuked by the female players and sparked discussions in the commentary box as the male ex-players backed away from accusing females, afraid to state that, ‘yes, in fact, we do play more sets, our matches do last longer. This guy has a point.’ In a poll conducted by the Guardian, 77% of people thought women should be paid less than men.

Another argument against equal pay is that because of the length of the mens matches it is extremely unusual for the top players, or at least those expecting to enter the second week, do not play doubles as well as singles. Whereas, the women find it easier to do both, and so can collect doubles and singles reward money. I remember a couple of years ago the Williams sisters played together in the doubles finals and against each other in the doubles. It is hard to imagine the men doing the same, and not only because it must be hard to face your sister acroos the court after being a team only the day before. Even the greats like Nadal, Federer or Djokovic would struggle imensley under the pressure of five set matches in both singles and doubles.

However, saying all this, equal reward money should be given as the women play just as good tennis and play, if not equally as long, equally challenging matches. Also, they have the same expences, the same committments to family and so deserve to be paid the same. Personally, I think that in this day and age, stating women shouldn’t recieve equal pay is an outdated, pointless, not to mention sexist, move.