Human ingenuity has no limits!
We were very fortunate to secure some excellent seats in the Olympic Stadium for only £5, and we were feasted with 3 hours of athleticism that was little short of outstanding. When I see the remarkable feats achieved by paralympian athletes, I try to avoid any thoughts or language that highlight the fact they are disabled (they are brave, courageous etc…..), and focus on the unqualified merits and competitive spirit that they all display……and the sheer joy expressed by each when they win a medal.
When David Weir won the 1500m in the wheelchair race, he did it at the remarkable speed of 17.5 mph…..and that didn’t even challenge the world record! We witnessed the medal ceremony for the men’s high jump, and the gold medal winner, Iliesa Delana from Fiji, stepped up to the podium using crutches. Not having seen the event itself, our imaginations were stretched trying to visualize how these athletes got themselves over a bar at more than 1m 70cms.
The long-jump was even more fascinating. Blind athletes relied on the silence of the 80,000 crowd to be able to hear their coaches beating out a rhythm indicating when they had reached the jumping pad at the sandpit. Remarkably, there were very few foul jumps.
Blind track athletes were attached to a guide-runner at the wrist, to keep them literally ‘on track’ to the finishing line. The guide-runners had to be equally fit as, or even fitter than, the athletes themselves.
Goalball and 5-a-side Football have also been developed for the blind player. The only guide as to direction, distance and the proximity of other players is sound (in each case, the ball emits a sound to enable detection). I stand in awe at the skill and deftness of such athletes.
Maybe the average able-bodied ‘couch potato’ will be more inspired by the can-do mentality of the paralympians than by the jaw-dropping achievements of the olympians. They certainly take all our excuses away.