September 02nd, 2012 | Tags: Paralympics, London 2012,

Paralympic inspirations

As of the time of going live with this blog post, the London 2012 Paralympic Games will be into its third day. Already the Games has captured the popular imagination, and it promises to be just as exciting and inspirational as the main Olympic Games which ended recently. Some of the finest sport skills are being demonstrated and world records are being shattered.

The stage was set for the spectacular opening of the Paralympic Games with the creation of the Games flame mainly by young scouts in the four home countries: England's flame was lit at the top of Scafell Pike in Cumbria, Wales' flame at Snowdon in Gwynedd, Scotland's flame at Ben Nevis in the Lochaber area and Northern Ireland's flame at Slieve Donard in County Down. The combination of teamwork and effort of the young scouts, plus disabled as well as non-disabled people, that it took to light the flames was symbolic of what it takes to be a Paralympic sports person.

Next came the opening ceremony which featured the famous Professor Stephen Hawking as an example of the triumph of the human spirit and possibilities over limitations. In his speech to the gathering, the professor said: "There is no such thing as a standard or run of the mill human being. No matter what, we share the ability to be creative and there should be no boundary to human endeavour."

From all indications, it appears that the Paralympics will build on the successes of the first part of the London 2012 Olympics: the high level of community interest, popular participation in the open-to-all aspects of the games, generous-spirited volunteering, and the national celebration of the medal winners and particpants in general.

London 2012 has truly turned out to be a summer of inspiration for all: a celebration of great athletes, disabled and non-disabled. The stuff that goes into the making of Olympic champions and competitors: huge levels of courage, mental strength, dedication to training and the unconquerable human spirit are available to us all. It is great to see the examples of so many great sports people who have overcome great limitations to get to world-class levels.

If you missed most or all of the main games in July-August, the Paralympics are another opportunity to see some of the best sports people in their different fields. Even without tickets, there are still possibilities to still see some particular events of the games. The marathons, for example, on 9 September. Anywhere along the route is a grandstand view!

Finally, a reminder that alongside the Paralympics, Cultural Olympiad is still going on, until the 9 September. There are many events yet to come. There is still time to be part of the celebration and enjoy the fun.

We hope the spirit of the Olympics and Paralympics will inspire people to see more and more of the country, as we've suggested in a previous blog post. This level of inspiration must surely move people to try new sports and other human endeavours they've always wanted to try but have held back. We also hope that there will be more intensified efforts at all levels – from community to national – to make facilities and managed venues more accessible to all.

As Prof Hawking told the gathering at the opening ceremony: "Look up at the stars and not down at your feet. Be curious." There are encouraging words for everyone.

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