Looking forward to the Paralympics
As the Rio Olympics draw to a close and eyes turn towards the upcoming Paralympics, our Research Manager Helen Hepworth recounts her own experience during the London 2012 games and what she learned from the Paralympians she saw.
I have enjoyed watching the current Olympics and all the amazing sportsmen and women pushing themselves to the limit to achieve their goals in their chosen sports. Watching these Olympics has reminded me of when I got the opportunity to watch Volleyball at the Olympics and our amazing Paralympians at the Paralympics, four years ago.
I was lucky enough to go and see the Paralympians compete in athletics at the Olympic stadium in Stratford. This was one of the best sporting events I have ever experienced. It was a packed crowd watching the athletes and they were such a positive audience, cheering all the athletes along. Paralympians with varying types of different disabilities were among the competitors, from those who had vision impairment (running with guide runners) to wheelchair-bound athletes. I was lucky enough to see amazing people compete such as Hannah Cockroft.
Here is a link to photos from the day https://www.theguardian.com/sport/2012/aug/31/paralympics-2012-pictures
At the time, I remember coming out of the stadium feeling really enthusiastic with a lasting feeling of amazement at how people have the ability to overcome multiple barriers and challenges to succeed at whatever they put their minds to. I felt the Paralympics really helped bring disability issues into the forefront and made people realise that disability should never be a barrier to stopping people succeeding in their lives. The very positive coverage of the games by Channel 4, calling the Paralympians ‘Superhumans’ was very warmly received and helped to raise awareness as well of the Paralympics.
This summer, I am looking forward to watching the coverage of the Paralympics in Rio. I wish that I was able to go to Brazil to see it in person, alas this is not something I am able to do at the moment. Though I will be watching the coverage on the TV and internet as much possible. I hope that the UK population get behind watching the Paralympics as they did when it was in London and the Brazilian population get behind all the Paralympians as well. I can’t wait for it to start and be inspired all over again!