As the Paralympic Closing Ceremony drew a line under London 2012 (with the exception of the Olympic and Paralympic Parade of course) the whole country anticipates the metaphorical hangover. In a previous post, I focused on my enjoyment of the Olympics and the sheer joy and emotion it had left me with - I wished that as a nation we would support Team GB through the Paralympics and show the world how it is really done.
I can truly say this summer, that I am proud to be British. As a country, we have come together to show our support and admiration for all of the participants from across the world - particularly those from our 'home team'.
Now, this is only my opinion, but I felt a greater sense of pride for our Paralympic Athletes. Yes, of course I supported Team GB in the Olympics and I was particularly inspired by all of the athletes that have worked so hard to make it to London 2012 - I was also proud to be able to say that I went to school with Team GB's very own Alex Gregory - but there was something extra special about the Paralympics. Arguably, for the first time ever Paralympians have not only been treated as equal, but also been put on a pedestal from which every spectator looks up to. Channel 4's introduction absolutely rings true - in their own right, they are superhuman.
Many were dealt their cards from birth, whilst others were dealt them through their life journeys. Yet, they have overcome, triumphed and defied stereotypes. Hopefully somewhere along the way, as a society, we will make way for a very much needed and heightened understanding of individual challenges that they face. This is an inspiration in itself. The willing, the motivation and the determination of these athletes has been incredible. Many, against all odds, have exceeded expectations of themselves, their coaches and the countries in which they represent.
I was fortunate to have tickets to the Paralympic Stadium (as it became known) on Day 3... suffice it to say, it was one of the most incredible days of my life. Ok, so I am only 25, going on 26, but it could well have been that 'once in a lifetime opportunity' that everyone keeps going on about. I was also lucky to have tickets to the ExCel on Day 6. On both days, I had become a walking flesh covered sack of emotion. I laughed, cried, screamed, cheered and shouted - trust me when I say, the atmosphere at the Stadium was crazy.
|Chris Whitehead celebrating Gold in T42 Mens 200m Race|
I want to thank all of the Olympic and Paralympic Athletes for bringing so much joy to London this summer. A big well done to each of the volunteers. It has been an amazing couple of months. Such a shame that we can't do it every year.
Over and out. Weez