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Paralympics - It has been AWESOME.

posted 8 May 2015, 03:37 by Tim Elliston   [ updated 14 May 2015, 09:58 ]
by Louise Jensen

Summer 2012 will always be remembered as the time London united the world with 204 countries and territories attending the Olympic and Paralympic games. Being a part-time wheelchair user myself I am totally in awe of how effortless the athletes have appeared to compete in their chosen field despite their physical impairments. A lesson reiterated to never give up on my own health and fitness has been received loud and clear. Although Great Britain did amazingly well coming third with an impressive 120 medals comprising of 34 gold, 43 silvers and 43 bronzes I found myself cheering on all the competitors regardless of their origins. The world has been inspired and I hope that disability will continue to be viewed in a positive light long after the streets of London have been cleared and normality has been restored.

It is hard to pinpoint any favourite moments when every competitor gave their all, but who didn’t have a tear in their eye when Brazilian Yohansson Nascimento sustained a hamstring injury during the 100m, but in obvious physical and emotional pain, still managed to limp across the finish line to massive roars of encouragement from the crowd.

Everyone rooted for 25 year old South African ‘Blade Runner’ Oscar Pistorius who finally won an individual gold medal in the very last race setting a new Paralympic record and a new personal best. Pistorius who became a poster boy for the whole event had both his legs amputated below the knees as a baby after being born without fibulas.

I really felt for David Weir yesterday during the wheelchair marathon which took place on one of the hottest days of the year. GB’s David, who was born with a spinal cord transection, managed to complete the 26 mile course and then touchingly wrapped his medal around his baby son Mason.

Ellie Simmonds demonstrated you don’t necessarily need long limbs to be a champion swimmer. The 17 year old suffers from achondroplasia (dwarfism) but still managed to defy the odds and win 2 gold medals and a bronze.

During the spectacular closing ceremony Coldplay provided an emotionally fitting soundtrack along with Jay-Z and Rihanna accompanied by a visually spectacular display of lights, lasers and fireworks.

GB gold medallists Ellie Simmonds and Jonnie Peacock transferred the flame to a Paralympic torch which was then used to light hundreds of other torches before it was finally extinguished.

Lord Sebastian Coe addressed the 80,000 crowd and summed up perfectly with “thanks to the athletes, young people know it is possible to triumph over adversity. To challenge and then change their circumstances and to achieve great things. Our minds were open to what people can do and to what can be achieved by sheer talent and determination. In this country we will never think of sport the same way and we will never think of disability the same way," he said. "The Paralympians have lifted the cloud of limitation."

They sure have and this will be a summer I, and many others, will never forget.

Louise Jensen