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The Paralympics will surpass the Olympics

By Musa Okwonga 29/08/2012 17:33

With the eyes of the world now firmly fixed on the Paralympics, Musa Okwonga says it will be even more exciting than the Olympics.

Oscar Pistorius - PAAnd so the torch approaches. The Paralympics, after a three-week pause, has taken up the national mantle of sporting entertainment from the Olympics. Some have questioned its place so late in the athletic calendar, contending that it should have preceded the Olympics.

 

Others, including myself, have questioned why it was not run concurrently with the Games, believing that it would have been a truly progressive move to integrate the two. But I think that both groups of us were wrong.


The Paralympics should stand alone, and they have every chance of offering us the best spectacle we have seen this summer.


The Olympics were conceived in the spirit of fair play, to encourage the very best of human nature. The Paralympics were born with a different aim: their much-loved father, Sir Ludwig Guttmann, saw competitive sport as an ideal means of rehabilitation for those injured in war.


The Paralympics, with its celebration of sporting excellence, offers the perfect platform to craft a different narrative.


In a sense, though, our society may need to rehabilitate its attitude towards people with disabilities. Simply put, there is too little visibility. 


For wheelchair-users, a journey across town must still be painstakingly plotted in advance, so uneven is the availability of access. We to rarely see people with impaired sight or hearing at the forefront of the media. 


The Paralympics, with its celebration of sporting excellence, offers the perfect platform to craft a different narrative.


But enough of the backdrop. The Paralympics will be better than the Olympics in one key department: the element of surprise. 


Who will take the British baton from previous Paralympic greats such as Dame Tanni Grey-Thompson? 


The Olympics told the story of many athletes – Jessica Ennis, Mo Farah, Usain Bolt - whom the nation and the world had already taken to their hearts. There were certainly those who emerged from obscurity – most notably, Nicola Adams – but, for the most part, we knew the corners from which glory might come. 


The Paralympics offers us a world of unknown and thus thrilling possibility. Who are the sprint heroes who will emerge into the mainstream? Who will take the British baton from previous Paralympic greats such as Dame Tanni Grey-Thompson and Ade Adepitan MBE? 


South African swimmer Andy Scott remarked, at the close of the Olympic Games, that “we’ve had the curtain-raiser, now for the big show”.  He knew that the greatest shows of all manage to marry spontaneity and glorious unpredictability: and this, too, was known by those fortunate fans who bought up over two million tickets well in advance of the Paralympics. 


They can’t wait; and, given the spectacular turns that this summer’s athletics have already taken, neither can I.

Musa Okwonga is a poet, musician, football writer and social commentator, you can follow him on Twitter @Okwonga


DO YOU THINK THE PARALYMPICS CAN SUPERSEDE THE OLYMPICS? TELL MUSA ON TWITTER USING #SOCIALVOICES


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