It’s the last week of September, which means the NFL is in full swing, the NHL just began their preseason, the NBA started their training camps, and MLB is coming to a close in the next few weeks. That is a lot of excitement to say the least! Not to mention, more than a month after the closing ceremonies we still can’t stop talking about the incredible athletes that competed in the Olympic games held in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil this summer. However, with all that going on, I’d like to direct your attention to the Paralympic Games, which just ended on September 18th.
The Paralympic Games are for athletes with a variety of impairments such as
limb deficiency, visual impairment, impaired muscle power, impaired passive range of movement, hypertonia, ataxia, athetosis, and intellectual impairments. Athletes competing in the Paralympics are in a unique place where they inspire not only those of us with a disability, but also those without. Each event reminds us viewers that a disability doesn’t define who they are.
Athletes from all over the world come to not only compete, but also prove that if you set your mind and heart to something, anything can be achieved. For example, Ibrahim Hamadtou is an Egyptian table tennis player who competes with no hands. In my wildest dreams I would never have imagined someone could compete at the highest level of table tennis without arms! He is truly an icon for those who see themselves as limited by their disability when it comes to pursing a sport they love. Hamadtou proves we are never limited physically, we can only be limited mentally if we allow ourselves to think negatively.
The Paralympics aren’t about these athletes overcoming their disability, it’s about appreciating their athleticism and their passion to continue to pursue a sport at the highest level possible and settling for nothing less. A great example is Alex Zanardi, a former F1 driver, who won gold in paracycling for Italy on the eve of the 15 anniversary of his nearly fatal accident. The accident that took place at Germany’s Eurospeedway took both of Alex’s legs, but clearly didn’t take his spirit or drive for victory.
Not all victories are honored with a medal. Taonere Banda experienced her own victory by becoming Malawi’s first, and only, Paralympic athlete. She competed in the women’s T12-13 1500-meter race, which is a specific sport class for those with a visual impairment. Her dedication to running and training got her a spot at the Paralympics to represent her country.
These 3 motivating moments that took place at the 2016 Paralympic games are only a small percentage of the memorable achievements. To understand all that goes into the Paralympic games and find all results and records, visit the international Paralympic Committee website at www.paralympic.org.