The Other Olympics

I have a confession.

I was always one of those people who thought of the Paralympics as a ultra-PC also-ran: a  really, nice, encouraging thing, ultimately defined by disability and limitation and therefore not as interesting as real sports.

I have another confession.

I was an idiot.

Saying the Paralympics are just the Olympics with fewer limbs and slower speeds betrays the very nature of the competition. There are some hardcore sports in these Games that actually couldn’t and wouldn’t exist if it wasn’t for these sportspeople.

Take for example, Murderball. Wheelchair rugby is sort of like other sports. It’s got a ball and a court and passing and scoring, but it’s a game unto itself. The chair is part of the player and part of the play in ways completely unlike any bipedal sport you know.

I still haven’t seen the festival-circuit documentary on wheelchair rugby, but this preview makes me want to: they look like punk-ass Mad Max racers.

Paralympic sports can be even more brutal, more competitive, and more heart-thunderingly surprising  than their “normal” counterparts. As one Paralympic hopeful said on the BBC the other night, I’ve already broken my back, what have I got to lose?

For the first time, I’m actually excited for the Paralympics. I mean, one of America’s top gymnasts is known as the Flying Squirrel. South Africa’s top paralympic runner, seen above,  is known as Blade Runner. Which do you think sounds cooler? The four time paralympic champion makes history this year, competing in the “regular” Olympics in the 400m and 4x400m.


On a similar note, Michael Jordan thinks Amp 1 is awesome. Now so do I. What do you think?

3 Responses to “The Other Olympics”
  1. My niece is in a wheelchair after getting into a car accident at the age of 2. She has just learned how to walk and will be 20 yrs old next month. I try to encourage her to stay active and look at guys in those videos as inspiration because I don’t want her to get down on herself. In my eyes, people her are dealing with these obstacles and still living their lives to the fullest are more inspiring than anything else. I’m almost embarrassed to admit that I forgot about the Paralympics. Thank you for this awesome post!


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