How awe inspiring are the elite athletes with a disability?

I’ve got to say, one of the biggest highlights of the Games for me has been the elite athletes with a disability (EAD) and this new title has shown the amazingly high regard these folks have gained in the sporting world – well bloody deserved I say.

The integration of EADs happened at Manchester in 2002 and I’ve got to say, it has made the games even more fantastic for me, because bloody hell, these folks are incredible humans and I adore watching them compete.

I enjoy watching the EAD competition as much as I enjoy any of the sports, but there is added emotional intensity watching these dudes as you can really appreciate the hurdles – both physical and emotional – that they’ve had to overcome to be there.

Some have been born with disabilities and some have gotten them in life, so the first thing is coming to terms with the challenges this brings. The second issue is while they have the same dedication and are also required to sacrifice a lot to be one of the best in the world; there are considerable other challenges. Financially it must be enormously challenging as I’m sure there is nowhere near as much investment and sponsorship as able bodied athletes get access to, but equally, many need access to special facilities that take into account their disabilities which I’m sure aren’t common everywhere. Add to that travel logistics, and all of the other things we and able bodied athletes take for granted, then you can start to see how much admiration these guys and gals deserve.

If I was a leg amputee I’d like to think that I could pick myself up and be someone greater, but I know that turning into a miserable bastard who felt sorry for myself is probably more likely. Who could ever know the challenges you face unless you are in their shoes… or wheels in some cases.

More acceptance in the world towards people with disabilities, for me, represents a real maturity, or even evolution, for the human race. We seem to be moving beyond false values of physical “perfection” into a better world that values the human spirit above all else. It really does give me a lot of hope and is one of the reasons I love international sporting competition. Nothing else seems to capture the essence of greatness in humanity as much as sport can.

Yours, without the bollocks

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