“It is not the disability of the body but the disability of the mind that paralyses us”
Physical disability always comes with unwanted attention from the people with their eyes full of sympathy. Even though it is a matter of perception, a disabled person is always assumed to be incapable of doing anything. There is still a bright ray of hope which is prompting the world to change their attitude towards people with physical disabilities. This ray of hope is in the form of the Paralympics.
Let’s start this voyage to one of the most inspirational events in the history of the mankind with this motivational video:-
It is an international sports event which provides a platform to differently-abled people to prove themselves in the realm of sports. The participants include those who are facing disabilities due to causes such as impaired muscle strength, limb paucity, ataxia and vision impairment. The first idea of this contest was born in the mind of Dr. Ludwig Guttman, a practicing neurologist in Buckinghamshire in the year 1948.
Tripped Out Fact: The first Paralympics was organized by Dr. Ludwig between his patients who got injured during British World War II and were facing injuries to the spinal cord.
Paralympics is second largest international sport event after Olympics. It is conducted parallel with the Olympics and hence the prefix ‘Para’ is used. The event is organized as both summer games and winter games. In London 2012, 4200 athletes took part in 503 medal affairs occurring in 20 different venues with more than 2 million viewers. India was introduced in the summer Paralympics of 1968. But it made its presence prominent since 2004 when javelin thrower, Devendra Jhajharia went on a gold medal stint and Rajinder Singh, power lifter in 56-kg, took over the bronze position in his sport. In the last summer Paralympics, held in 2012 in London, Girisha Nagrarejogowda managed to win silver medal in Men’s High Jump.
There is a quote by famous author, Joey Reiman, which captures the essence of Paralympics perfectly,
“What I learned was that these athletes were not disabled, they were super-abled. The Olympics is where heroes are made. The Paralympics is where heroes come.”
There are certain unexplored sports in Paralympics which are more intense and crazier than we “not-so-special” people can think of. There are 20 sports in it among which 4 sports are not contended in regular Olympics for various reasons. These sports are:-
- These are Boccia- this sport is similar to lawn bowls played by athletes having cerebral palsy
- Wheelchair Rugby- played by athletes having low level quadriplegics
- Goal ball- sport in which visually impaired participants in teams use of ball with bells in place of a normal ball, which they have to score into a goal.
- Power lifting- weight lifting is done using upper body only.
These sports have the caliber to make you reassess your abilities in normal sports as well. You are bound to have an inferiority complex along the lines of, “I have all my limbs but will I be able to play that sport?” First let’s answer this unceremonious question, will you be even able to go and perform in front of millions of people, to prove your ability and to show everyone what you are made of in spite of what people have always thought about you?! No doubt, many of us will utter a big “Hell no!!” We all know it takes guts to step up. It is not everybody’s cup of tea to prove their mettle and let their mental strength dominate over physical disability. So, the next time you look at a disabled person, and go “Oh man, that guy is so unfortunate!”, ask yourself how much you can push yourself with your “perfect” body and intellect. In fact, these people who have been reminded the whole of their lives about their disabilities and what they will not be able to do, will make us able to look at ourselves with a completely different perspective.
There is no need to be condescending while addressing or talking about differently-abled people, due to simple fact that we cannot even come close to the perils of everyday life that they go through, including the seemingly “simple” act of moving from point A to point B. They are much more gifted than we are, due to the experiences that they have gone through, and the strength they have mustered up in order to overcome the hurdles in their lives. So, next year at Rio 2016 summer Paralympics, let’s celebrate their zeal and exuberance together.