You could be forgiven for not even knowing the Paralympic Games have been held this month. Unlike the Olympics (which received full coverage on the BBCs channels) the Paralympics were shunted off to Channel 4 and we only received the “highlights” from it.
Now I don’t know about you, but that really pisses me off!
When I was a kid in primary school, we were asked for homework to fill in a sheet about someone who inspired us and why. The rest of the kids in the class picked someone like David Beckham or Britney Spears.
Me? I picked Tanni Grey-Thompson.
She was a huge inspiration to me when I was going through a pretty rough time. I’d recently been diagnosed with severe asthma and it was really taking its toll on me. I’d always loved sports, particularly rugby and hockey, but because of the asthma I was really struggling to play them.
I was distraught and honestly thought I’d never be able to play again, as even just short games were causing me to have pretty bad attacks. But then one day I saw Baroness Grey-Thompson racing on tv and I realised that I didn’t need to stop playing because of it.
Sure I couldn’t run up and down the pitch getting in the heart of the action (and trouble) like I used to, but that didn’t have to stop me playing.
I just needed to adapt my playing style!
Instead of running around trying to do as much as possible, I decided to start playing in defence; and it turned out I was actually really good at it! Because I was staying in one little area in front of the goal, I didn’t need to do much running, which meant I wasn’t having attacks while playing.
But if it hadn’t been for seeing her on tv, I might have decided that I couldn’t play anymore and just given up trying.
Which is why I’m sick of things like the Paralympics not getting the coverage they deserve.
We live in a society that plays lip service to equality, but very rarely seems to deliver it; with this being a prime example.
If we don’t give the Paralympics and other Para Athletic events equal coverage, how are we meant to inspire the next generation of disabled athletes? To show people who might otherwise give up, that they can achieve their dreams and do the things they love?
One of my favourite quotes is from the late Stephen Hawking (who sadly passed away just after I wrote this post) when he said:
“However difficult life may seem, there is always something you can do, and succeed at. It matters that you don’t just give up.”