I have always assumed that the whole point of both the Olympic Games and the Paralympic Games is to inspire. What other possible effect is meant to be created by the spectacle of athletes who have dedicated themselves to being among the best in their fields - with all the self-denial that inevitably entails - competing one against another?
Given this is what I've always imagined, I was naturally fairly astounded to read this piece of advice from an Australian organisation serving people with disabilities:
I really admired Stella Young but I don't think she was right when she made that comment - or she is being quoted out of context. Furthermore, in answer to the question about whether I'd use the word if an athlete didn't have a disability, yes, I would. Olympic and Paralympic athletes are equally inspirational and share so much in their efforts to become exactly that.
Each has to overcome pain and temptation and failing motivation and so forth, in order to emerge as a sportsman, (by which, sigh, I also mean sportswoman, just as The Ascent of Man is the story of all humankind), of extraordinary excellence. Every four years when the two sets of games come round, I watch and am briefly inspired to try to redouble my efforts to keep at least vaguely fit. And, if I am slightly more inspired by Paralympians than by Olympians, it is not because I am being patronising but simply because to date I have read nothing to suggest that any of them are drug cheats, which sadly cannot be said for all players in the Olympics themselves.
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