Just Majestic & Magic
Although I have written my views in a previous blog of how we should engrain the Paralympian medallists into the heart of our Government, I find myself overwhelmed with the sights, sounds and action of Paralympics. At this point I am not sure whether I can even come close to doing the whole event so far even a modicum of justice.
The pageant unfolds again and again with cheers and lights flashing from thousands of camera, the atmosphere for every qualifying race, for every final reaches fever pitch repeatedly, the Paralympics is not one massive event, it is hundreds of magnificent spectacles of heroic ability powering with their absolute determination to do their best.
These Paralympics are far more than advertised on Channel 4, far more than mere words, I will leave it to the roar of the 250,000 people that attended the Games today, and erupted as their hero, everyone’s hero, lined up for the 200m final, Oscar Pistorius, the man that is inspiring generations of people facing barriers, knowing they can overcome anything as Oscar has. The viewers were entertained as Oscar flew from the corner leaving the field behind in a superhuman blur of power and acceleration. Then from the pack a man breaks free making Oscar’s 10 meters per second look slow, as a Brazilian called Alan Oliveira gains with every stride of his air slicing blades, closing down on Oscar, the crowd explodes and the tension thickens the air as Alan’s blades eat the track he is barely touching as the line rushes towards them both. Suddenly there is only Oscar and Alan in the entire world as the camera struggles to keep up with the speed of light bodies hurtle across the line like speeding bullets, and Oscar is beaten by the slightest of margins, the crowd was shocked as the ‘Blade-Runner’ is beaten, the roars change tone.
A king of the blades disposed by the milliseconds and millimetres, Oscar’s head falls back as he gasps for air and every muscle alight with lactic acid, the pure agony expressed is not just physical. I cannot describe the instant feeling surging from the crowd and yes from the viewers at home, was it sympathy, was it empathy, connecting with the deepest sense of disappointment radiating from the crownless king of just 22 seconds ago. One could actually feel his cutting emotional utter deflation. And then the drama of the track was surpassed by the comments of Oscar, as within a few minutes of gaining the silver medal the interviewer has him in front of the camera, as he continues to gulp air as if it was water, being asked questions that were quite moronic in nature, “how do you feel?”
Well really, that’s like asking King Harold, “How was the arrow then, hurt did it?” What did they expect him to say, he was undefeated for so long, the fastest man on two blades ever over 200m, and now, by the thickness of a hair, was beaten. Oscar commented that he felt the rules had allowed his opponent to have an unfair advantage in blade length, and it seemed so unjust to him, so utterly wrong, but it came across as him being very ungracious in the dismal shadow of defeat, very mush sour grapes. From nowhere this battle of determination, showcasing almost poetic movements matching eagles descending through the air like bullet, become a new battle of victors and villains, a battle of words filling the airwaves, Twitter bursting at the seams with comments for and against.
Actually I felt Oscar faded in the last 30 meters and Alan stormed it home, whether your blades are an inch or so too long has nothing to do with it, to run that fast with or without legs you have to be a world class athlete, 21 seconds over 200 meters isn’t running, it is take off speed of a Formula One car raging down the track with exhaust flaring. But in the buzz of commentators trying to make sense of what was unfolding, I realised the Paralympics had come of age, this would be front page news on 5 Continents, yes the Paralympians were truly coming of age and being treated as other athletes who don’t have such barriers, this was the equivalent of Usain Bolt being beaten by an understudy in front of a world audience in its 10’s of millions, and then saying he had cheated, the media services have exploded!
THE PARALYMPICS HAVE COME OF AGE!!!
These games have been absolutely extraordinary, and we are only 4 days in, the ticket entrances has already exceeded an average over 300,000 people a day, the world audience has been that of the Olympics, and Channel 4 deserve medals themselves for the coverage in the UK, they too have beaten all contenders and deserve Gold in my opinion. Day 4 and over a 100 world records have been broken, but from our own Country what unfolded today, a real highlight for me, was Sophie Christiansen receiving her medal. Having to deal with Cerebral Palsy did not stop her achieve a Gold medal in the saddle, and as the words spoken, “Will all those able to stand please (love that little touch that conveys real respect for disability) rise for the National Anthem of Great Britain”, a beam of light came from her of pure ecstatic joy, shinning much brighter than the heavy golden medal around her neck, her smile was energised, this wasn’t just the best moment of her life, this was the best moment of the viewers’ lives for that moment.
In that moment I had my second realisation of the Games, these Games have gone further than any of us thought they would, through Sophie’s smile the audience were witnessing something majestic, something almost magical, it was the viewing audience that were actually the losers. For the first time in the history of disability, a jaded past that Hammer House of Horror could have written the script for, the losers were not the people that did not attain a medal, the really losers were those who were only able to watch and only join in through some voyeuristic representation. Yes, we felt like we were the losers, we could not even imagine the feelings Sophie was experiencing at that moment, and there was a realisation 99.99% of us would never feel as she does, whether we have a disability or not. We were the losers, we were jealous; we were appreciative, honoured to be able to be allowed into that moment in time of purest joy for Sophie, even if it was only on the margins.
The Paralympic Games have come of age – I am humbled and privileged to be watching these magnificent people.