It is a year since the excitement and enjoyable madness of the Olympic and Paralympic Games. For a few weeks in July and August 2012 the whole country was hooked on all things sport. Be it Dressage, Rowing, Cycling or Athletics we watched it on the telly. Medal after medal came our way. It was like a fairy tale for both able bodied and disabled athletes.
On a personal note for me it was a dream come true. Not only did I secure tickets for my beloved athletics, I saw Mo, Jess and Greg win their gold medals on super Saturday. Could it get better, oh yes. I was a Games maker at the Paralympic Games working directly with the athletes.
One year on from the Games where are we and has it made any difference to anyone? Well I went to the Anniversary Games a few weeks ago. I hoped for a repeat of last year’s excitement and success. In some ways I wasn’t disappointed.
How can you be disappointed when Usain Bolt enters the stadium on a rocket! and Mo Farah wins his 3000m race. However I also realised what a high price athletes pay for success. Success is transient and very soon forgotten. How many medal winners can you name or recognise from last year? How many pay the price with injuries and lack of motivation after such a life changing experience as competing in the spotlight of your own country. Some of them have retired or resumed their day jobs to continue to earn a living. Only the few continue to live the life of a celebrity.
Jessica Ennis-Hill is sadly injured and unable to compete at her usual high standard as well as Dai Greene the hurdler injured and struggling in competition plus many more from 2012 suffering with injuries.
What has this got to with SDN you ask? Well on a positive note I learned more about disability in a few weeks than in all my life. It wasn’t the beautiful athletes who appeared on the TV that taught me, but the men and women who overcame their sometimes appalling injuries or disfigurements to compete against all odds. They came to the games mostly from third world countries on shoestring budgets hardly able to afford kit or accommodation. They thoroughly enjoyed their experience. Basically we had loads of fun just being part of the Games. They went home full of positive ideas and hope for the future.
The Legacy of the Games may be slow to trickle down to the general population, but I have seen evidence that it is happening. First, I have joined Ruby (A gem by name and nature) and her team as a fund raiser and Ambassador for SDN. (Have you seen our T shirts? Brill). Second, I have been in contact with several athletes and they are visiting schools encouraging children to take part in sport whatever their ability. Some like Beth Tweddle (gymnastics) and Nicola Adams (ladies boxing) have set up academies in deprived areas to encourage participation in sport. Third, I am sure due to the progress of research on things like wheelchairs and artificial limbs, and prosthetics things will improve the life for many individuals.
The next step is improving things in our normal daily life. It is a long term project. I hope I can assist SDN to achieve some small changes.
There is a long way to go to make everything right but I hope my small contribution will help the younger disabled population, and it all came about from London 2012.
Roll on Rio 2016.