The Paralympics came to a close today, ending what was an exciting summer of sport. I'm glad to have watched a lot of the events and amazed by what our world's best athletes are capable of. I hate that sometimes I feel like not doing what everyone's doing, and it helps to have such a positive atmosphere around a shared interest.
Swimming was certainly huge for Canada this year, so I'll be joining the movement. I've never been able to do the butterfly stroke so I'll try to learn. I'll also make sure I get on a horse as soon as possible. I wish we had an equestrian team in the Paralympics, but the Spruce Meadows Masters weekend was a welcome extension to my showjumping viewing.
All in all, our Paralympic Team performed splendidly.
There's a lot to remember from the summer games, but since the Paralympics are fresher in my memory, I'll just mention my fascination with the sleek, aerodynamic chairs used in the wheelchair races by Brent Lakatos, Michelle Stilwell and our other athletes. I was also impressed by the balance the organization is able to achieve in classifying the Athlete's varied impairments. At first I wondered about the fairness of athletes with impairments at opposite extremities competing in the same event, especially in swimming, but I saw how well they all make use of their strengths.
It bothers me a little bit that these champions won't be the focus of adulation in the mainstream media for another long while. I would love some gossip about Judo rivalries to go with the constant updates on movie star relationships. The drama related to the difficulty of the course at the Spruce Meadows Masters made for some juicy commentary. It was interesting to learn that a false start by a guide in a sprint race for visually impaired athletes disqualifies the pair. It seems obvious, but I wouldn't have thought about it. I knew about the Murderball movie but had never watched it, so I did this week and appreciated the rivalries in Wheelchair rugby a little more.
I don't understand why the media, whom I really dislike at the moment, always start their Olympic coverage by pouncing on negatives found in the host country and disdaining the institutions that have managed this amazing, almost improbable feat called the Olympics/Paralympics. Gathering our species' diverse peoples from around the world to share a living space, work together, even compete respectfully and do so year-after-year, decade after decade is true global leadership, in my opinion, especially given the broken state of international interaction. Negativity is the order of the day for the news of the world today, but Olympic/Paralympic Spirit triumphed once again.
I just hope Sports Commentators stay away from the negative influence of their counterparts in the news industry. I just love how positive, neutral, informed, respectful... sports commentators are, especially when they resist the urge to insert political references during their work. My favourite call was probably during one of the Judo sessions where a Judoka from China was destroying all opponents with the same move and the commentators just happened to precisely anticipate his next victory.
I wish Steve Armitage a swift recovery.
Congratulations to all our athletes. I enjoyed watching you and know a bit more about the the limits of one's potential, what hard work looks like, how far one can fall without losing dignity or giving up (nod to Tom Daley), how rules and authority work when imposed on smart, humble, powerful badasses, what it feels like to share a happy moment, even at the expense of another and know that they'll be just fine.
Thank you all.