As we reach the ‘final lap’ of the London 2012 Paralympics the thing that has stood out for me are the many stories behind the athletes being eligible to be here competing.
Alex Zanardi said his motor racing crash was his ‘ticket to the Paralympics’. For others the ‘ticket’ to the Paralympics was issued at birth or due to disease, medical mishap, workplace incidents and motor vehicle incidents. There are also others who have been called up due to terrorism, war and even shark attack.
But what this totally biased observer will remember (what can I say, I enjoy sport!), is that these elite athletes have been inspiring, challenging, funny, tenacious, great entertainment and fabulous competitors.
I don’t care that they may not be the fastest in the world. They are great role models, better than many so-called ‘normal’ athletes, cyclists, footballers we hear about. These athletes just get up, get on with life, compete hard, and be incredibly supportive of one another’s achievements.
If any aspect of the London 2012 Games can inspire a generation, as the Games slogan goes, it is these athletes and the memories that young and old alike may take away from the many facets of this event. It is not just potential disability-sport participants they can inspire, they can inspire anyone who has ever had a set back or found life tough.
What will I do? Hopefully, spend more time on my bike or in my running shoes than on my computer!
Well done to all the para-athletes at London 2012, you are a credit to yourselves, your families, friends and support teams!