SO, how has the non-stop action from the greatest show on Earth been treating you?
If you haven’t already guessed, I’m referring, of course, to the 2012 13th Paralympic Games that kicked off in London last week on Wednesday.
More than a whopping 4,000 of the best athletes with disabilities from 164 countries have been taking part for the past nine days in one of the toughest yet competitions that draws to a close on September 9.
I’ve been trying to follow the sporting action as much as I can on BBC Online, TV and radio. As it turns out, it isn’t just the high octane events in the stadium alone that caught my attention in this year’s Paralympics.
Here are some of the unusual, inspiring and exceptional moments from my notebook that are worth to seriously think about:
· Paralympics v the Olympics: Whilst there has always been a debate about running the Paralympics simultaneously with the Olympics, for the first time I can see why having the handicapped games separately has its huge advantages. A re-ignition of the Games three weeks after the Olympics ended effectively brought back all the sparks, enthusiasm and euphoria of the Olympics with a special and more pronounced focus on disabled sportsmen and women. To me, this could not have quite achieved the same effect had the handicapped athletes shared the limelight with the Olympians. The opportunity allowed for a total immersion of disability sports and what it is all about. The BBC noted that the local and worldwide coverage and appetite for disabled sports – which had been dismally unequal for years – thanks to 2012, now bodes well for future Paralympics. Late last week it was reported that 2.4m of the 2.5m tickets had been sold. There is also a lesson here for our media in covering local disability sport. Disabled sports NGOs have always complained that various sports events for the handicapped are not covered by our media. But perhaps the NGOs too must take some blame for not putting enough effort to highlight such information to the press.
· Non athletes with disabilities not left out: As the BBC put it, the opening message was clear: “From the call for intellectual curiosity from Professor Steven Hawking, to the high wire arrival in the stadium of a double-amputee serviceman, topped off by the lighting of the cauldron by the winner of Britain's first Paralympic gold medal over 50 years ago - disabled people excel in many areas, and not just sport.” I thought that this was a brilliant point to put across. Life can be an equally tough – or perhaps even more - for people with disabilities who have to face daily struggles in a society that hasn’t taken their needs into account. The organisers certainly thought deeply about every possible subtlety in the ceremony.
· Disabled people as pundits and commentators on radio and TV: This was another marvellous move. Instead of always getting the perspectives from people who have no experience with disability, the “straight from the horses’ mouth” approach was much, much better and commendable. And what a refreshing change that brought about with a multitude of views! Whilst disability activists in the UK were looking forward to Paralympic 2012 to change negative perceptions about them, they were equally concerned about the “darker side to disability in Britain.” Charities like Scope pointed out that attitudes to people with disabilities have noticeably worsened in the past year over government plans to cut welfare benefits which often allies "disabled" to "benefit scrounger". Scope hopes the Paralympics could help reverse this trend. Disabled actor and stand-up comedian Liz Carr, however, is worried that the Paralympics could divide disabled people by turning them into super men and women instead of who they really are – and not within the paralympian ideal. Baroness Tanni Grey-Thompson, winner of 11 Paralympic gold medals for being one of the world's most successful wheelchair racers, likened the Games to fairy dust. “We sprinkle (it on) life as a disabled person; it shows a snapshot in time of some extraordinary people who train very hard, who are good at sport," she said. "It is great while it lasts, but probably not going to change the world, and certainly not on its own." Baroness Grey-Thompson would be the first to admit that while she can leave people far behind as she powers down the track, she still cannot get down an escalator to board an inaccessible tube train and needs the public's help to do what they regard as very ordinary things.
For continued coverage on the 2012 Paralympics go to: http://www.bbc.co.uk/sport/0/disability-sport/
PET+BLOGSPOT is the ONLINE BLOG of the Malaysian Animal-Assisted Therapy for the Disabled and Elderly Association or Petpositive. Our stories are CURRENT, ACCURATE and RELIABLE. We offer both local and foreign news on animals, disability and the elderly. PET+BLOGSPOT was first established in October 2007. Our hits since then are now 150,000 and ever increasing! PET+BLOGSPOT is updated daily. Kindly note that views expressed in PET+BLOGSPOT are not necessarily those of PETPOSITIVE. You may also visit our Webpage by browsing: www.petpositive.com.my You can also find us in Facebook under PETPOSITIVE EMPOWERMENT. Please sign up as a FOLLOWER of this Blog if you haven't done so already in order to show us your kind support for our work. Thank you!