The 2012 Paralympic Games
From the field of play perspective, it meant planning and rehearsing moulages to ensure our skills were kept sharp and that we worked seamlessly within the team. Inventing worst-case scenarios, such as wheelchair crashes and extracting seated athletes, kept the training challenging and meant we were confident to deal with any situation.
With the catchphrase "inspire a generation", it is hoped that the 2012 Games will do exactly that. Built on the pledge that sport can inspire, change and improve lives, an NHS document in 2009 stated that the Games would change health beliefs and practices by targeting unhealthy behavior and reducing levels of physical inactivity for Londoners and indeed nationwide.
An additional objective was to inspire the next generation of athletes. By introducing families to sports, the Games brought to the limelight those events that are infrequently televised and made then centre-stage. In doing so, it may have seeded the ideas for our future athletes.
Whether these ambitions will materialize depends on numerous factors beyond our control as doctors. Nevertheless, many of my patients have witnessed the Paralympics and I will endeavor to build on this interest and enthusiasm towards sport, encouraging people to try to be more active in their daily routines. Whether it will involve taking up a new sport or simply considering cycling to the station instead of taking the bus, I am optimistic that the Paralympics will have been a step in the right direction.
Irrespective of the legacy ambitions, the Paralympics have shown us what can be achieved despite adversity. With personal sacrifice and self-belief, these athletes have brought their individuality and sport to the forefront of our consciousness, leaving little doubt that they are elite sports people and not simply disabled individuals.
This blog has previously been published with the BJSM.
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