What the Paralympic Games gave us

I was unsuccessful in my sustained attempts to get tickets for the Olympic Games of London 2012. I finally “settled for second best”, and got tickets to the Paralympic Games some three months ahead of them, and long before there was any indication of the excitement which they would bring. I had made the mistake of assuming that the Olympic Games would somehow be better than the Paralympic Games – big mistake! How wrong I was…

The Paralympic Games were not only spectacularly successful from a competitive perspective; looking beyond the competition results themselves, they gave us so much more.

Neil Crofts recently identified Ten things we have learnt from the Olympics on his excellent Making Mondays Magic blog. Thinking about my own experiences of being at the games, this is how I see it: Continue reading

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We are all different

The Paralympic Games of London 2012 have had a lasting effect on many of us, and much has been written and spoken about the “eye-opening” which we experienced. Many of us have been in complete awe of the competitors – we have watched in disbelief as “disabled” competitors have achieved the unimaginable.

Much has been discussed about prejudice, and how we individually react to disability. In a recent blog post, I suggested that “disability” was too negative a term, and proposed that “differently abled” would be more appropriate. I visited the Paralympic Games myself and was truly amazed by the achievements of these sportsmen and women, and have changed my view on this.

Matt Stutzman, born without arms, won the silver medal in archery at the Paralympic Games. He also holds the Guinness World Record for the longest shot – not by a disabled archer, but by anyone.
Matt Stutzman, archer[Photo courtesy of The Daily Telegraph, AP]

He said “Around the athletes’ village people keep coming up to me and asking what sport I do. Most reckon I’m a swimmer. One guy thought I did basketball. That’s some idea, a guy with no arms playing basketball. When I say I’m an archer, they say, ‘So how do you shoot the bow?’ I say: ‘With my feet, doesn’t everybody?’Continue reading

“I’m a Team Player”

I visited the London 2012 Paralympic Games last week – what an eye-opener it was; what an absolute privilege it turned out to be.

I watched a 5-a-side football match between Turkey and France. I’m not a great football fan, and have never knowingly watched a 5-a-side match. But this was different; this was utterly compelling. Paralympic 5-a-side football is played by blind or partially-sighted players. To ensure a level playing field, all players wear eye masks; the ball has bells inside. The goalkeeper can be sighted. As the teams were led out onto the pitch at the start, I was struck by how they relied on each other – this was very much a team game.
5-a-side teams

Blinded soldiersI couldn’t help making the comparison with this photo of British soldiers in the First World War, blinded by gas [photo courtesy of makingthemodernworld.org.uk] – each staying close to the next, supporting each other, practically and emotionally. These are real team players.

How many times have we read CVs which declare “I’m a team player”? How many times does it really mean that? Or is it just a lazy “filler”; one of those things which is important to have on a CV; something so bland and ubiquitous that we don’t even notice it anymore? Continue reading