Day 254 of 366: Blog Challenge 2012

Hello all

I have been wondering today how many of you ‘out there’ were inspired by the Paralympics Games in London? And what about the Closing Ceremony of the Games (called Festival of the Flame) which was viewed here Monday morning Australian time?

Living ‘Down Under’ I actually missed it although I did hear Sebastian Coe’s amazing speech (on breakfast radio) when he was closing the games. However, thank God for YouTube because I did watch bits of pieces of it today on this medium and I am so glad I did! Watch it here if you missed it: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pIRHMmM2z7c

Even though I have not written about the Paralympic Games so far, I have been watching and taking notice … and being inspired. Sure, Australia has done very well in the medal tally and we have all been pleased for the Australian Team, but there was so much more to the Paralympic Games than Australia’s Medal Tally folks.

Matthew Cowdrey

Names like Matthew Cowdry our swimmer, who became Australia’s most decorated Paralympian following his 10th gold medal in the 4x100m freestyle relay spring to mind. But what I loved most about this blonde headed, good-looking lad was when he stood on the dias and punched the air with his deformed arm. After a while, I failed to notice that he even had a deformed arm!

And this is what is wonderful about these games. They expose us to people with disabilities. We see them functioning like all of the regular Olympian who performed in London earlier … only these people have had to overcome far more than the ‘regulars’ and we do not bat an eyelid anymore.

I loved what one of the commentators said at the beginning of the Closing Ceremony: “It (the Paralympics) gives us the power to overcome.”

The truth of this statement struck me and I became aware of the influence they’ve had on me personally during these last 11 days of competition. I feel as if I can achieve anything I put my mind now. How does it affect YOU?

But I was also impressed by global singing sensation Riahanna who was quoted as saying before the Closing Ceremony:

“Being asked to sing at the Paralympics is an honour. These athletes are gladiators and a true inspiration to me.”

The “Agitos” symbol of the Paralympics

And she sang her heart out with Coldplay and looked like she was having a wonderful time. It was interesting too that Cris Martin of Coldplay had the “Agitos” symbol (the symbol of the Paralympics since 2004) on his jeans. Love it! Apparently it means “I Move.” This is something that I did not know folks. 

As I said earlier I also loved the speech of Sebastian Coe. What an amazing man he is! How many hats has he worn: gold medalist runner, politician and now President of the Organising Committee for London? Every time he spoke, he had the crowd eating out of his hand. One part of his speech really was special and I want to quote it here because he did have me spellbound:

“I was travelling on the tube when I met someone wearing the familiar purple uniform and a pass marked Medic. A Games maker. And the Games makers stand among the heroes of London 2012. We began talking.

Lord Sebastian Coe

His name was Andrew and he told me he was a doctor at St Mary’s hospital on his way to help out at boxing.

But when I tried to thank him, he wouldn’t let me. He said he was the one who wanted to do the thanking. And as we did a very British dance over who should thank who, he suddenly cut through all the politeness and said:

I was on duty on 7/7, that awful day. For me this is closure. I wasn’t sure I should come or whether I could face it. I’m so glad I did. For I’ve seen the worst of mankind and now I’ve seen the best of mankind.”

Wow! I had never thought of the Paralympics as being a way of showing the world that these people have not been defeated by adversity. In fact, they have used their disabilities to overcome personal tragedy and live a full life regardless of limitations.

I wondered how often we are defeated, not by our bodies, but by OUR MINDS folks? How we move on from adversity is what we need to find out for ourselves, but watching these athletes is certainly a starting point.

Therefore I would like to close this blog today by quoting the announcer who ended the Games with this statement:

“THANK YOU FOR INSPIRING A GENERATION”

I couldn’t help agreeing wholeheartedly and can only echo: Thank you Paralympians for inspiring ME …

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