50 Shades of Obstacles Overcome

.This week the Paralympics opened with a dazzling ceremony. Although the start was promising the run-up to it was very worrying indeed. Three weeks ago only 12% of tickets were sold – with some efforts the number has now gone up and 1.6 of the 2.5 million have now been bought. However, if this was not demoralising enough, athletes had to face many other challenges. There were cuts to the workforce and transport services, closure of some media centres and other facilities, issues with travel grants jeopardising athletes from actually participating in the games. The budget cuts combined with the inability of Rio’s Games Committee to raise enough money were so significant, that at some stage it was doubtful if some games could take place; only last-minute sponsor money secured the go-ahead.

‘Never before in the history of the Paralympic Games have we found circumstances like this’, commented the IPC president Sir Philip Craven.

The London Paralympics in 2012 were hugely successful: not only did they raise the profile of the athletes and the Games as more and more people became interested in it, but it also highlighted that despite many obstacles – from physical, emotional to practical – they can be overcome and show exciting, world-class sports. The great organisation, funding and the increased interest demonstrated that the Paralympics can and indeed should have equal weighting. 

No doubt, all Paralympic athletes will give it their upmost and strive for Gold, and even a struggle at this stage will not deter them. Let’s just hope that the wonderful opening ceremony will encourage more people to watch it and ultimately have more respect and understanding for those of us who are faced with a disability.

How fabulous that the first British gold medal goes to a British Stroke survivor Megan Giglia. A cyclist who only took  it up three years ago, along with dealing with the difficulties stroke presents. Not only is it confirming everything I believe in and keep preaching, hopefully it will be inspirational to many and also offer something positive to focus on during those really difficult, low days.

It is even more powerful I feel for us as stroke survivors seeing such achievements, understanding only too well the difficulties these athletes are beating and in addition not allowing them to be deprived of producing such athletic excellence. I admire them hugely.  

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