Saturday, in London, was a very hot place to be, for more reasons than one.
The weather, for one thing, was scorching. The relentless sun beat down on the ground unimpeded by any sign of a cloud. But that still wasn’t the hottest thing around.
The only thing hotter than the sun? The Olympic Park.
We went to see the Paralympics at the weekend with what felt like everyone else. Everyone. The place was packed. A buzz of excitement rippled about the place like nothing I’ve ever felt. I really don’t like crowds and yet somehow I felt relaxed and happy among this one.
Meanwhile, the athletics was unbelievable.
Blind people running or throwing Javelins or jumping into sandpits. Cerebral Palsy effected ladies powering themselves along a track with every single step an unquestionable display of gritted determination. People so severely disabled they have to be lifted up and strapped into a tripod, just so that they can throw a shot-put, doing just that and then throwing it further than I ever could. People with no spine at all pushing their way down a 100 meter track.
All of it.
This is what human achievement is. This is what we can do.
When we take people seriously, who have been traditionally pushed to one side and forgotten about, and give them the same training and funding opportunities as everyone else then this is what happens. They deliver sport of an equal and greater quality than that of their counterparts. I stood clapping my hands in disbelief and awe as a man who could not stand without shaking, wobbling and support, was helped up the rostrum to collect a bronze medal for his run. The fact that this man had managed to run the length of track that he had done is amazing enough, that he managed to do it fast enough to beat anyone else? Superhuman!
How much dedication and strength must that have taken? A damned sight more than I’ve ever put into anything in my life – I’ll bet you that much.
These people at once made me proud to be a part of the human race and also ashamed of the attitudes that I myself have been a part of.
Still tripping from the atmosphere of the stadium, we ambled about the park desperately searching for shade or water or food. I generally don’t like to go more than half an hour without eating so this activity took a while.
The park hummed with excitement. I really did feel pretty proud to be British looking about at what we had done.
Later we went on the Orbit. This is the art installation and general lookout post that overlooks the stadium like a giant Helter Skelter. The views of the park were stunning if not entirely worth the over-priced fee.
In no time at all, the day was done – except it wasn’t.
Just as I thought we were on our way home we heard an announcement that there were spaces available for the Wheelchair Rugby for people on the park. Well – what were we to do? We made our way to the arena and went in – that’s what we did.
Don’t get me started on what these guys were doing. When people with no back can hurl themselves about like this then it truly is time to see them in a new light.
Stop seeing what they can’t do. Start seeing what they can do.
It’s as simple as that