The Rio Olympics saw Great Britain with a record 67 medals, exceeding the number of medals won in London four years ago. What a wonderful prelude for the UK Paralympic squad who will be flying the flag for the UK in their games which begin next week. With 264 athletes competing in 19 sports there’s everything to play for and hopefully the medal tally will exceed the 120 medals, including 34 gold won in 2012.
One thing’s for sure we are going to see again in Rio the ability and determination of all those taking part never to allow disability to restrict their ability to reach the highest level of fitness and determination to success in their chosen sport. All who will be taking part will have their own story to tell and would have had to overcome many obstacles to realise their dream. That’s why, despite the extremes of elation and disappointment we will see as medals are won or lost every athlete, without exception, will be a winner and an inspiration to us all – That’s why these are the games which truly inspire.
The very word Paralympics implies getting alongside and that surely is the very essence of the Olympic movement and one which we should all seek to embrace not only in the sporting world but in society as a whole. How do we do that? – the answer lies in following the spirit and example of these games and all who take part in never allowing physical or any other handicap to be a reason for exclusion be it in sport or any other aspect of life and work.
That’s why these games are such a force for good and challenge us to stand alongside each other by breaking down all the barriers of intolerance and injustice. Someone once asked Jesus what was the greatest command. He replied with what is often called the ‘golden’ rule. To love God with all of our heart and soul and mind and to love our neighbour as we love ourselves. There it begins and in doing that we will have gone for the gold and crossed the winning line!
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