The London Paralympic Games opened on Wednesday night and Nigeria is been represented. It is set to be an inspiring 11 days of watching athletes with disabilities.
It was Kareem Abdul-Jabbar who said “you can’t win unless you learn how to lose”.
These Athletes have suffered disability either from birth or through accidents. The remarkable thing for me though is that, they have turned what many would consider unfortunate into an advantage.
The Paralympic Games is the world’s second largest major international multi-sport event, involving athletes with a range of physical and intellectual disabilities, including mobility disabilities, amputations, blindness, and cerebral palsy.
Given the wide variety of disabilities that Paralympic athletes have, there are several categories in which the athletes compete. The allowable disabilities are broken down into six broad categories. The categories are amputee, cerebral palsy, intellectual disability, wheelchair, visually impaired, and Les Autres (literally “The Others”, which are athletes with disabilities that do not fall into the other five categories; these include dwarfism, multiple sclerosis, and congenital disorders).
The initial mental headache of athletes with disabilities have been converted into a winning mentality, an attitude many non-disabled body cold learn from. Basically, these athletes have learnt to get on with life in-spite of, and I know I will be greatly inspired.
I am looking forward to watching blind footballers play 5 a-side football. I have also found out that there is Wheel Chair Rugby.
There will be swimmers with disabilities and Volleyball players on wheel chairs. These paralympic games by its sheer audacity is an inspiration. Enjoy watching as I hope to.
The IPC has established six disability categories. Athletes with one of these physical disabilities are able to compete in the Paralympics though not every sport can allow for every disability category. These categories apply to both Summer and Winter Paralympics.
Amputee: Athletes with a partial or total loss of at least one limb.
Cerebral Palsy: Athletes with non-progressive brain damage, for example cerebral palsy, traumatic brain injury, stroke or similar disabilities affecting muscle control, balance or coordination.
Intellectual Disability: Athletes with a significant impairment in intellectual functioning and associated limitations in adaptive behaviour. The IPC primarily serves athletes with physical disabilities, but the disability group Intellectual Disability has been added to some Paralympic Games. This includes only elite athletes with intellectual disabilities, where few qualify. However, the IOC recognized Special Olympics World Games are open to all people with intellectual disabilities.
Wheelchair: Athletes with spinal cord injuries and other disabilities that require them to compete in a wheelchair.
Visually Impaired: Athletes with visual impairment ranging from partial vision, sufficient to be judged legally blind, to total blindness. The sighted guides for athletes with a visual impairment are such a close and essential part of the competition that the athlete with visual impairment and the guide are considered a team, and both athletes are medal candidates.
Les Autres: Athletes with a physical disability that does not fall strictly under one of the other five categories, such as dwarfism, multiple sclerosis or congenital deformities of the limbs such as that caused by thalidomide (the name for this category is the French for “the others”).
[Additional information: Wikipedia]