Last week I was lucky enough to head over to the Olympic Park. It was an amazing day and an amazing experience. I have to say it really refuelled my excitement for London 2012 – Patriotism took hold once again with ferocious cheering for team GB.
The park is incredible and six times the size I had assumed it to be. I have to admit it was quite the walk between venues. I saw goal ball in the copper box followed by wheelchair basketball at the (what looks to be inflatable) basketball arena. Both sports I found to be an inspiration – the basketball, well quite frankly it was terrifying!
Later on in the day having headed Trafalgar square-ward I sat watching the big screen (although it’s supposed to be summer, I would advise a thick coat at the very least). An explanation of how different disabilities are ‘graded’ in events hit the screen, showing how events are grouped and how according to disability, more points or time concessions are awarded. So forgive me, if the Paralympics is graded according to ability why then doesn’t everyone compete in the same games?
Of course there is the argument that the media would automatically gravitate towards the likes of Usain Bolt and Jessica Ennis leaving those less able-bodied in the lurch. Yet may I point out that in Beijing, team GB came second in the Paralympics yet 4th in the Olympics. Is it then not true to say that these Paralympians would so too act as media magnets just as any able bodied Olympian? The likes of Ellie Simmonds and David Weir spring to mind …
If this ‘grading’ system separates Paralympic athletes then why not have a 4 week games that includes people of all ability levels? Why is the separation from ‘mainstream’ athletes necessary? Everyone would then contribute to the same medal table, competing for the same team.
At the end of the day I’m cheering for team GB – why that has to be team GB in two separate tournaments I am bemused by. Olympian or Paralympian – they are both an inspiration, and both could thrash me!
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