is just a short break for moving the furniture!
Most of the world is being
told through the media that the games are now over. The people of Great Britain
are also being asked to hang on to the Olympic
Legacy and to prevent the closure of school playing fields and sporting
Headlines that cry
out from newspapers front pages include – ‘Games
go out with a bang’, ‘Team GB’s medal heroes’, ‘Was London better than
Sydney?’, ‘The Peoples Games’.
All of these
headlines seem to indicate that things have come to an end in the Olympic
sporting world, but, for more than 4000 athletes, the excitement, hard work,
moments of highs and lows, have all yet to come.
Team GB is waiting
until after the Paralympics have taken place to have an open-top bus parade
through London to celebrate the successes of all the sportsmen and women, but
in other countries similar celebrations have already taken place without the Para-Olympians.
I believe that in Germany ARD and ZDF television
channels will have live coverage of 5-10 hours daily of the Paralympics, but as
yet there is little about the first ever all-tickets-sold Paralympics to be
read in the newspapers here.
I wonder how much media coverage the Paralympics will
get in other countries.
I have read in the British press that Channel Four
have launched an advertising campaign, that the symbol for the Games has
already replaced the five Olympic rings at some sites and that the torch is
already underway on its relay through Great Britain. More and more tickets are
being released and, just like the tickets for the events in the last couple of
weeks, these too are selling like hot cakes.
I wish now that I had been more aware of the
preparations for the Paralympics during the last four years. I think that I
would have volunteered in some capacity had I realized that this was possible,
but unfortunately I was not aware of this possibility until it was too late. I
did, however, think about buying some tickets before it was too late!
Before the big rush for them began I got in touch with
a friend in England who, having been to watch some of the Olympic sailing events
was already conversant with the complicated ticketing system. Thanks to his
patient efforts online we are now the really excited holders of tickets for
events at the Olympic Stadium, the Copper Box and the Excel Stadium. I think we
will see athletics, sitting volleyball and goal-ball but I cannot be quite sure
until I get the tickets.
My sister has joined my excitement and informed me
that has bought me a Paralympics’ T-shirt and I have already packed my Union
Flag scarf that I purchased for the Diamond jubilee celebrations in June!
I am already for off and the Games have not even
started yet! I have shared my excitement with all of my clients at work too and
we all wish there was space in my suitcase alongside my Union Flag for them to
it all began
Most people in Britain have heard of the National
Spinal Injuries Centre at Stoke Mandeville Hospital in Buckinghamshire. People
my age and older perhaps know more than most through regularly watching TV campaigns for raising money for and awareness of this great hospital and the spinal injuries
What I did not know is that it was here that the
pioneering work, by a German neurologist, Sir Ludwig Guttmann, took place that evolved
into what we now know as the Paralympics games.
Towards the end of the Second World War Sir Ludwig Guttmann
was asked to move from his research work at Oxford University to run the spinal
injuries unit at Stoke Mandeville Hospital. He was needed to develop
rehabilitation and care facilities for the many service men returning injured
A documentary film has been made that will be shown on
the BBC in August that celebrates Dr Guttmann’s achievements, describing how he
had faith in the tremendous ability of the human spirit, the human soul
perhaps, to overcome difficulties –
The first Mandeville Games took place on the same day as
the opening ceremony of the London Olympics in 1948. It was an archery event organized
for a group of 16 World War Two veterans with spinal injuries. Since that day the
Paralympic Games for disabled athletes has grown to include many sports for not
only spinally injured athletes but also athletes with many other disabilities.
If the media have got it right, this year is going to be
the biggest event in the history of Paralympics, with most tickets for the many
venues already sold and with the 4000 athletes arriving in London from over 150
am so excited
I will be one of many thousands of spectators in the
stadiums to cheer the competitors on. I realise as I write this that in the
thirty-five years that I have been working in this field I have never been to a
sports meeting for people with disability. This is rather a grand way of
getting started and it is sure to be the highlight of my trip home.
Ludwig Guttmann –
Mandeville Hospital, Buckinghamshire England –
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