The Superhumans

Posted on September 3, 2012. Filed under: big swim, big swim nottingham, big swim nottingham 5000m, bike, david weir, ellie simmonds, london 2012, MAF, make a wish, make a wish foundation, make a wish foundation sponsorship, marathon, olympics, outlaw ironman, outlaw triathlon, outlaw triathlon relay, paralympics, richard whitehead, sarah storey, swim, Uncategorized |

It has certainly been a while since I updated the blog.  And there is good reason for that……. firstly, the last events that I did were horrible and secondly they traumatised me mentally but, more significantly I now realise, physically as well.
Before the week is out I promise I will go through some catharsis by writing about it but as a sneak preview to get you (literally) gagging for it here are a few key excerpts……”sausage sandwich”……”threw up in my own mouth”……”eating swan shit”…….”naked in shower with a mentalist”…….”kicked in head”.  OK, now do you understand my reluctance to write about it??  This year I have run a marathon with gastroenteritis, escaped from the unescapable Alcatraz through choppy, icy, shark infested waters and peeled my own skin off after 8 wind, salt and sun swept miles running around San Francisco Bay.  But really the Outlaw weekend tipped me right over the edge.
So what has dragged me out of my cave to face this cruel world.  Shame.  Shame has damned well made me show my face again.  Shame grumbling about a few aches and pains while I am glued to the Olympics and then the Paralympics.  Especially the Paralympics.  Just, purely and especially the Paralympics.
 The legacy and the emblem of London 2012 has been “inspire a generation”.  Without a shadow of a doubt 29 gold, 17 silver, 19 bronze medals and countless wow performances will have inspired some people to switch off the x-factor, bin the xbox and dust down a bike or a pair of trainers.  For anyone that is over 15 years old now – that is our legacy – to inspire the next generation not to aspire to vacuous, instant, disposable C-list celebrity but to want go ride the velodrome, or throw a javelin or learn to box.  It’s a pity that the main event was closed by a poor celebrity led ceremony that seemed as relevant to a new proud, inclusive, confident, successful modern Great Britain as dull, old, crack fiend Russell Brand.  Oh dear, the closing ceremony was so irrelevant that he, unforgivably, was part of it alongside Kate Moss and Naomi Campbell.  Thank god the doping authorities had packed up their sample bottles.
But the most phenomenal legacy that I have heard from London 2012 was the able bodied kid that wanted to be a paralympian (I really hope they don’t do anything too impulsive)! I didn’t plan to write this today but I have been so inspired by a “super human” group of athletes who refuse to focus on what they can’t do but what they can do.
I was sceptical and slightly nervous about the Paralympics at first.  Was I watching just to be politically correct? Hell no, 5 minutes in front of the telly and I was confronted with something that rarely happens.  All of my preconceptions smashed by reality.  Any doubt that I had that this is elite sport like the Olympics was instantly dispelled when seeing the reaction of those that missed their dreams.  Tom Aggar, the burly ex rugby player who has dominated rowing since Beijing who came 4th and was clearly devastated as he was interviewed while still strapped in his boat on Dorney Lake.  Sam Ingram a blind judoist won a silver medal but could only contemplate that he had lost gold as he shook his head repeating “it wasn’t supposed to be like this”.  Or Will Bayley, a ping ponger, who collapsed to the floor sobbing at winning his silver, inconsolable even when his German opponent lay on the floor to hug him.
Every 5 minutes I have a new favourite sport – partially sighted tandem racing in the velodrome, the T34 freestyle relay in the pool – proper ass clenching edge of the seat stuff.  But we also had the most fantastic winners.  We should be proud to have some of the best of the best in the world…..
Sarah Storey was born without a functioning left hand and became a Paralympic swimmer.  After 5 golds she hurt her shoulder and became a Paralympic cyclist.  She then won 2 golds in Beijing.  She trained for the able bodied Olympics and and just missed out on a place in London.  To make up for that disappointment she now has 2 more Paralympic cycling golds with another two events to come.  Legend.
Ellie Simmonds, the poster girl of London 2012, was born with dwarfism and at aged 13 in Beijing won 2 golds.  Her 400m freestyle on Saturday was possibly the single most exciting event I have ever seen.  It had everything – a pantomime villain (but only in the Paralympics could a 17 year old who lost the use of her legs after being in a vegetative state for 2 years and is now recovering be the bad guy).  The shoulder to shoulder battle of Ellie’s short scrappy stroke against Victoria’s long, elegant inch perfect pull was the ultimate exhibition of pure, scrapping, will to win.  When she was interviewed there could not have been a dry eye in front of Channel 4.  Legend
Richard Whitehead is a double leg amputee marathon runner.  The International Paralympic Committee decided not to let Richard run the marathon because they said he couldn’t race against arm amputees – so he changed to the 200m and promptly became world champion.  Just watch. That’s all.  Legend.

 

 

David Weir, legendary wheelchair athlete and 6 times London Marathon winner, provided possibly the second most exciting race I have ever seen after Ellie’s.  He controlled the race from start to finish and showed the other paralympians that they were rolling round HIS track.  Another legend.
And so it goes on – in the pool, on the track, in the velodrome, at the ping pong
Channel 4’s coverage of what is clearly a poor TV budget relation of the Olympics, has been exceptional.  In fact, although the BBC creates some wonderful packages of content it found itself stretched far too thin on commentator capability, poor choices of presenters and some of the technical aspects of sports I love were just inept.  However, C4 has the most fantastic presenters,  brilliant commentators and pundits and in Adam Hill’s The Last Leg probably one of the best sports humour programmes of the year.  Paralympic sport is complicated and confusing – Channel 4 made it accessible without patronising.  And they used Public Enemy’s Harder than you Think as the theme tune.  It’s in the video link above – just watch and listen.
And that was what shamed me out of my cave.
Now I need to write about my traumatic swims.  Booo.
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