Twitter. 140 characters to express yourself. Two sentences if you’re concise. Often it can barely skim the surface of emotion or encapsulate something so large as the Olympic and Paralympic Games.
It’s 140 characters that can lose or secure somebody their job. 140 characters that can reach out across continents and unite a world with unbridled passion.
Kurt Fearnley isn’t a journalist, a writer or a trained poet or wordsmith. He tweeted simply and coherently and hit the nail on the head with more fervour than most I’ve seen at London 2012. The Australian Paralympian said: “London you are owning these Paralympics. You get what we do! UK created our movement & we can feel the overwhelming support.”
I couldn’t have, much to my own literary dismay, put it better myself.
For, as I have previously posted here, there is something Britishly un-British about London 2012. Gone is the pessimism, the cynical undertones. In its place, a nation united to celebrate diversity, achievement and ability. And for the Paralympic Games, Great Britain is celebrating ability, not disability.
In my own personal role, working as a host at Wheelchair Basketball and Goalball at London 2012, I have seen the same, if not more, zeal when compared to the Olympic Games. London has embraced the sporting spectacular with a huge cuddle yet not held too tight as to strangle it and prevent it from blossoming on its own.
Whilst every athlete has their own remarkable story to tell, the sport and the spectators have been the real triumph of London 2012. Everyone I have seen attending the Games, without exception, has done so with a sense of pride and with a willingness to be part of it. Every Mexican Wave, every YMCA, every crazed flag waved in the air. All contribute to a neverending flickerbook of memories. Every enthusiast has let their inhibitions go and contributed to the party atmosphere.
And it makes a difference to the players.
Speaking to the boyfriend of a Paralympian last week, he urged me to do more to get the crowd helping out his beau in achieving Paralympic glory. Before I thought being the ‘12th man,’ to coin a footballing phrase, was just nonsense. Now, seeing it for myself, seeing the reaction of the men’s Goalball team in defeat to Finland last night, I can appreciate just how far London has succeeded in not only inspiring the Paralympians to achieve greatness on a sporting and personal front, but also inspiring three, four, even five generations in the crowd.
I have seen more children at the Paralympics than the Olympics. It’s been incredible to see how they are inspired by athletes who have been ‘less fortunate’ and yet turned their fortunes through the medium of sport.
London 2012 is all about ‘Inspiring a Generation.’ It’s plastered on the banners, on the changing rooms yet not too in your face as if to say London is trying too hard to capture that legacy word. It has let the sport do that for itself.
For some, four years in obscurity, training in local sports halls, battling with funding and their own bodies to make it onto the court, the pitch or the starting blocks for their five minutes of fame is all worth it when they see and hear the level of support and interest ordinary members of the public donate to them.
So whilst we celebrate the organisation and the astounding achievements of the Paralympians, lest we not forget the brilliant spectators, whose support and endless enthusiasm has propelled London 2012 into the pantheon of all time great sporting occasions.
And whilst it’s taken me 622 words to portray all of this, Kurt’s hashtag hits the spot better than I could dream of…
Monday, 3rd September 2012