Monday, 10 September 2012

'Thanks for the warm up'... time for the cool down

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

On Day 3 I attended the morning session: Richard Whitehead won Gold in what was one of the most electrifying events of the morning - the stadium overflowing with excitement and pride, cheering all athletes competing and letting out roars, wails, screams, whistles and massive 'woohoos' every time the home team surfaced. It was a time of togetherness, not just for the Brits but the other supporters who were cheering their own countries.  Houssein Omar Hassan appeared to have injured his Achilles tendon early on in the race but showed extreme willing to finish despite the seven-minutes-plus time difference separating the race winner from himself. The stadium stood tall, cheering him on as he reached every length of the track – the focus was not on him to win the race, but solely on his determination that was openly tugging at heartstrings of onlookers. The stadium united to see this athlete and spur on his determination to finish what he started.

Houssein Omar Hassan: T46 Mens 1500m Race

It is so hard to imagine the intensity that Olympic Athletes endure – then you see the Paralympic Athletes with such a diverse range of disabilities and classifications, it has brought a new meaning to sport. Barriers have been broken, stereotypes torn, attitudes changed, world records blown out of the water and infinite possibilities for not only Britain, but across the globe. My hope is, that as a nation, we will carry the spirit of the Paralympics and continue to not only accept our differences, but also celebrate them. 

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


  1. All so true! I'm not religious or anything but all people WERE created equal.


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