Proud parents of the Paralympians

editorial image
Have your say

I knew this would happen.

I can’t watch the Paralympics for tears.

This great big knot forms in my throat and I actually sob. At key moments, I put my hands over my eyes and peek through my fingers, as if watching a blockbusting thriller. Which, I suppose, I am.

It’s the ones who come in last who really get to me. Locked into their own personal battle, their valiance as they force themselves to the finishing line even though the winners are already rejoicing is nothing short of inspirational.

Between tears, the Paralympics are making me marvel at so many things. What the human spirit can do, the power of competitive sport to inspire and embrace everyone and the huge advances made in the management of disabilities are just three.

Then there’s the fact that with the love and support of their families, plus radical new physio, medication and prosthetics and their own determination and self-belief, a new breed of superhuman is being created.

Down in London, there’s the proof that a handicap doesn’t have to handicap the person. Surely the way able-bodied and the disabled themselves view disability has shifted forever.

‘Comedian’ Frankie Boyle couldn’t have judged the nation’s mood more wrongly when he made his tasteless and crass Paralympic Twitter comments.

Who on earth wants a cheap laugh when you can marvel at these men and women?

Swimmers casually taking their legs off as well as their tracksuits to balance on the starting blocks like beautiful pieces of modern art. The ones with no arms, weaving through the water like dolphins.

One-legged long-jumpers leaping 4.38 metres to land on a graceful blade of metal; how much must that hurt? That GB runner who managed to power his steel legs, his gait all awkward-looking but so what, straight through the pack to gold.

The cyclists who tear round the velodrome at God knows how many miles an hour and can barely see a thing.

The wheelchair-racers with no legs but arms honed to Goliath proportions who power themselves over 5,000 metres faster than Mo Farah can run it. Ellie Simmonds, bless her little 17-year-old heart, as sweet and as thrilled as ever after getting her gold. Couldn’t you just adopt her?

But mostly what I think about as I watch these super-humans is their parents.

The emotions they must have gone through since their children were born handicapped, or rendered so by some terrible accident or terrorist bomb.

I can picture their absolute despair and anger as they asked themselves time and again: why our child?

I can imagine them mourning, as I would have done, for the things their children would surely never do and worrying endlessly about them being able to accept their lot in life. And then their kids go and refuse to dwell on what they don’t have and use all that they do have to be the best. Their hearts must burst with pride.