Not long after the thrill of the 2008 Olympics in Bejing was ending, the 2008 Paralympics moved into the buildings. Coverage of the Paralympics is minimal- I’ve been watching the swimming events in the Water Cube today on CBLT, Canadian television. Those same lanes where Michael Phelps earned his booty of medals are filled with swimmers with their own dreams of glory. The gal who just broke the world record and won gold was surrounded by waving Canadian flags and cheering fans. Of course, with less than 10% vision, she didn’t see the flags and waves from her parents, but she heard the thunderous applause. Ten percent vision- legally blind. They all were in that race. It doesn’t get much more inspiring than this.
Wheelchair tennis, basketball, wheelchair rugby. Sound dull? Oh my, NO! It is every bit as exciting watching the challenged athletes compete- their speed and agility on wheels is amazing to watch. Their passion is unrivaled. Watching the grit and determination of the sitting volleyball players was far more interesting to me than the skimpy swimsuit competition that was volleyball at the first Bejing games. Some people may be uncomfortable watching legless, armless or blind athletes compete. Too bad they’ll miss the whole point. These are athletes. They are incredibley talented and spirited athletes representing their countries with pride.
The Paralympian competition started on September 6th and finishes on the 17th. You have just a few days to catch an event. You owe it to yourself. While few Americans know, or care, about the current games in Bejing, our American athletes have earned 26 gold, 19 silver and 21 bronze medals for the USA!