Tomorrow night, the Paralympics open. We don’t know how tomorrow night’s Opening Ceremony will compare with that of the Olympics, but we do know that the Paralympics will be special. Already more tickets for these Paralympics have been sold than compared to previous years.
The buzz that the Olympics created is being carried forward to the Paralympics. We know that the expectations of the success of our Paralympians are high.
One of the most moving features of the Olympics was the competitors’ stories: the injuries that were overcome, the personal losses that motivated stars to perform and the back stories of our competitors. I was struck by the composure and modesty of competitors whether they won or lost. They handled themselves in a way that would put many other stars to shame.
And I think we will see and hear many more moving stories during the Paralympics. We will see people perform amazing feats overcoming physical disabilities. We will understand more about what motivates people who are wheelchair-bound or have lost limbs or who lack the physical capabilities like sight that most of us take for granted. We will gain some understanding of the pain and suffering they have had to overcome to perform at levels that we can never comprehend.
Whilst so much of the emphasis on legacy has been about increasing the take-up of sport or the future use of the Olympic Stadium and the Athletes’ Village, isn’t there a broader legacy that we should take away from both 2012 Games?
A legacy that inspires all of us to push ourselves to the limits, to overcome barriers to realising our full potential and to use setbacks not as a reason for giving up but as a spur to do more – isn’t this the real inspiration of these Games?