Why the Paralympics are really the main event

The Olympic Games

…were a wonderful celebration of sporting effort, achievement (often against the odds) and excellence: a great success in every way that has inspired young and old alike to get out and get involved in sport. But I can’t relate personally to the Hoys, Ennis’s, Brownlees’ of this world: their athletic prowess and achievement is too great, I can see no facet of me that can be truly world beating, so why try?

Then we had the Paralympics

…thought by many as the ‘add on’, not the ‘main event’ as the adverts foretold. Could they offer a legacy too? My answer: an emphatic YES! There is no doubt in my mind that the Paralympics have the potential to offer so much more to us all than the Olympics.

Lost in wonder
Every Paralympian has a story of how they’d overcome a disability beyond the comprehension of most able bodied people. Their determination, drive, dogged effort, inner strength and stamina to overcome the odds is truly remarkable. Instead of focussing on who won, and in what time, I found myself lost in wonder at everyone’s achievements and then comparing myself and every able bodied person I know, with these seemingly superhuman beings.
Strangely, I can relate more closely to these superhuman Paralympian than their Olympic colleagues. Their personal triumphs have made me ask ‘how I can make more of myself as a person at work and play?’ My answers so far are:

• I have to recognise within myself what I can’t change (which is almost certainly far less than I think).
• I should refuse to accept norms (mine or society’s) about what I can and can’t achieve.
• I must look positively at myself, looking at what I do well already and for untapped potential.
• I have to set myself personal goals and focus my efforts on achieving them by using well documented processes, but more critically by using Paralympian determination as my source of inspiration.

These answers are hugely empowering

Perfect people
…for me and for anyone who has the slightest interest in sport, but the Paralympics legacy can touch every aspect of life at home and work. For example, no business operates in a perfect market, with perfect products, a perfect organisation or perfect people, but every business and organisation has untapped potential in abundance and could, by applying the Paralympian ethos have a Paralympian story to tell.

The key legacy then of the Olympics, was firing up the nation to be ready for the Paralympics! And the legacy of the Paralympics, should be releasing the untapped potential in all of us in every aspect of our lives.

Martin Thompson

As a footnote: I play bridge reasonably well but with little confidence and always the same partner. I was asked to play in a competition with someone else. I didn’t want to play: it was too far outside my comfort zone. I thought about the Paralympians, accepted and we won. It is the first time I have ever won a bridge competition!