My visitors today

Sunday 19 August 2012

The Olympic Games are not over yet



There 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 facilities.

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 come too.

How 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 unit.

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 from war.

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 different countries! 

I 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.


Dr Ludwig Guttmann –

Stoke Mandeville Hospital, Buckinghamshire England –

The Paralympics—

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