For many people around the world, the Olympics were over a few weeks ago, but this year I found myself just as interested in the Paralympics. For those who may not be familiar, the Paralympics are for those with physical disabilities that range from sight impairment through those missing multiple limbs.
It’s impressive to watch fully functioning athletes compete at such a high level. You see the joy on the face of the medalists as well as the heartbreak of those who did not make it past the qualifying round. I applaud all of them for even reaching the Olympics – a feat most of us couldn’t even dream of achieving and posted a poem on my web site dedicated to all athletes as I believe they all deserve a medal.
I’m at least equally if not more impressed by the Paralympics’ athletes. Many people might think it’s primarily wheelchair bound athletes, but it’s much more than that. I saw blind or nearly blind men running races (with sighted guides running alongside them – note: this year the guides received medals as well, which is only right as they must run as fast as the Paralymic athlete). I witnessed high jumpers who only had one leg – try hopping on one leg for 10 feet then jumping over a bar. It’s not only the amazing abilities these athletes exhibit, but I saw so many genuinely beautiful, warm smiles on their faces. How can you not be inspired by them?
The other thing I enjoyed about the Paralympics coverage was seeing so many medals ceremonies. They have all but been eliminated from the standard Olympic coverage in modern times, and it’s a shame.
It could be because the events were held across the pond, but the coverage of the Olympics, and likely Paralympics in Ireland were far superior to that of the United States. Having lived in the same time zone as the Winter Olympics in Vancouver in 2010, I can honestly say it is not just proximity that determines the quality of the coverage. US coverage has sunk to being little more than sound bites and quick flashes during prime time television, only covering what the network wants people to see. Here in Britain and Ireland the Olympics were on all day long – at least 10 am until 10 pm on three to five different channels. I saw sports I never knew existed and enjoyed all of them. The US could take lessons from the BBC and RTE.