No arms; no worries.

Am I the only person watching the Paralympics? When I look at the audience seated in the stands, I find myself wondering if any of the spectators aren’t related to the competitors. It’s a crying shame that more people aren’t supportive of these wonderful people. The Paralympians are real athletes. They run, cycle, swim etc at amazing speeds. In fact, the first four men over the line in the men’s 1500 metre race, were faster than the winner of the event in the Olympics. And each of them did it with a disability. Considering the achievements of some of these people, I don’t know why they don’t just compete in the Olympics. They’d hold their own very well: especially the rowers, archers and shooters. I wouldn’t go so far as to call them ‘heroes’ (see my previous post) but they are all wonderful, inspirational people. I sat with my heart in my mouth, watching the sight impaired guys race around the track in the 800 metres. Only a couple had a guide attached to them. The rest had just enough sight to figure out where the track started and the oval ended. Just brilliant. They weren’t shuffling around, tentatively feeling their way; they were running full pelt. I just have to take my glasses off and I’m vulnerable to smashing into doors and walls! I watched a swimming race. Some of the competitors seemed more handicapped than others, as they didn’t have any arms. I figured the ones with arms would have an unfair advantage. I was wrong. A dude with no arms won the race. Flipping heck! They deserve more recognition. They deserve more adulation. In fact, I’d rather cheer them on than a lot of the able-bodied Olympians, many of whom behaved like spoiled brats. What have I learned, watching them? Not what you might think. If I were reduced to being in my wheelchair full-time, I wouldn’t feel compelled to take up wheelchair tennis/rugby/basketball. No, what these athletes are telling the world is: make the most of what you’ve got. Instead of feeling sorry for yourself, and mourning what you have lost, find a reason to keep on, keeping on. Don’t give up. Just because you have limbs missing, or part of your anatomy doesn’t function like everyone else’s, or you’re missing a chromosome or two, doesn’t mean you aren’t a complete, worthwhile, valuable and precious person. Get out there and live!...

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Heroes?

Among the plethora of things the Australian media do that annoy the heck out of me, there is one that drives me to distraction: the use of the word ‘hero’. ‘Our cricketing heroes…’ ‘Our footy heroes…’ ‘Our Olympic heroes…’ Now listen and listen carefully:- They’re athletes – some of them are even great athletes. They represent our country while playing sport. Some even manage to do it in a sportsmanlike, humble and respectful manner, unlike the several yobbos at the Olympics who chose to go out and get drunk as skunks, or the two young male tennis players who are competing to see who can throw the biggest tantrum. However, they are not heroes. Heroes run into burning buildings, at the risk of their own lives, to save someone else. Heroes run across a field, under heavy enemy fire, to bring back a wounded comrade. Heroes, at great risk to themselves, smuggle hundreds of Jewish children out of Nazi Germany. Heroes dare to stand up and say, “The Emperor isn’t wearing any clothes.” This ridiculous, aggravating, annoying, frustrating use of the word ‘heroes’ as a superlative for people who play games for a living, is not only a slap in the face for every genuine hero, it reduces the meaning of the word. Eventually it won’t mean much more than ‘really good’, and we will have to find another word to replace ‘hero’ when we’re talking about real heroes. Meanwhile, I find myself grinding my teeth every time I hear some inane announcer on the television talking about ‘our footy heroes’. Sometimes I even shout at the TV. Aaaaarrrrrgggghhhhh!!!!!!! Don’t get me wrong; I’m as enamoured of sport as the next Australian. But, I also love the English language. I happen to think that words, and the way we use them, are important. Rant,...

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