So often you see “ Sporting Stars “ described as “ Heroes “ ! Wrong description for most ! This of course is a personal observation and will be contrary to those of most people !
For me to think of an Athlete as a “ Hero “ requires that they have done something Heroic , riding your bike like Lance Armstrong , or playing Basketball like Michael Jordan , is not heroic . They are certainly “ Role Models “ and their careers and subsequent outside interests are worthy of note .
On the Paralympic Podiums will be seen exceptional personalities with a variety of stories . But it will not be necessary to win a medal to be a winner , since each competitor will have fought for many years against adversity to reach the qualification standards imposed by the “ IPC “ ! For each competitor there will be years of dedication and heart breaking stories , of their struggle to rehabilitate after injury suffered in Serving their Nation in Harm’s Way , of rehabilitating after some medical condition , even of being born with physical infirmity . Whatever was the cause of their “ Physical Disability “ , they will have struggled to overcome these difficulties .
Some will have a mindset that will not even acknowledge that they are any different from you or I . In fact “ Heiko Kroeger “ , a great German Sailor , had to be convinced to step back from thrashing Able bodied Sailors , so as to help his Nation by joining their National Paralympic Team at the Sydney Paralympic Games ! In the story of the “ WE can , you can “ , Idea Argo Project , that utilised “ French Kiss “ to attempt to win the “ Americas Cup “ he said when asked to join this team “ My first thoughts were to say NO ! Because I never felt Disabled , I never joined disabled sport and I was having enough success in “ non disabled sailing “!
Another team that I have had the good fortune to come across are the VorArlberg Wheelchair / Handbike Team . At St Johann in Tyrol each year there is the World Masters Cycling Championship , which is an event that even “ Para Cyclists “ attend . Some years back I met several Vorarlbergers , each of whom were members of the team that raced , relay style , the “ Race across America “! Yes , day after day , they rolled their Hand Bikes through 3000+ miles to achieve the nigh impossible . Currently that race is nearing it’s conclusion and in this year’s edition are 8 members of a team from “ Wounded Warrior Project “ . What these guys have suffered before becoming involved does not bear thinking about ! Since adding the links i have discovered there are in fact two teams , hard at work , creating " Inspiration "!
Go to these link for further details :
No doubt their efforts will inspire other teams to take on this challenge during future events !
That people are rarely aware of a person’s “ Disability “ is clarified by an incident I witnessed yesterday in Kramsach ! Seeing a tandem pass at speed in the opposite direction , I did a U turn and had to really chase hard over a couple of kilometres to get up to them . On a narrow street within the 40 kph zone we were close to the speed limit but two cars were not content to wait . The first a blue saloon decided that 50+kph was their “ right “, and off they went past me and then the tandem into a right handed bend with little visibility of oncoming traffic !
The second , a grey Peugeot people mover “ MD 721..” decided to attempt to pass also, even though there was oncoming traffic , I slapped the front rhs mudguard panelwork when he was alongside me , causing him to brake and fall back , thus allowing the oncoming vehicle to pass unimpeded . As he then passed again ,he made a gesture such as “ there is the problem “ ! You know , the right hand opened , palm up , pointing to some object ! Was he telling his wife , that the tandem was at fault for being in his way ? Or was he trying to say that the tandem was in his way and should not be on the road ?
When next you see a “ Wheelchair Driver “ , perhaps you too will wonder what sport they pursue and their skillset , maybe even reflect on the cause of their Disability ?