Tuesday, 11 September 2012

There's no such thing as 'can't'

Life lessons- There's no such thing as 'can't'

Dis-a-bil-Ii-ty
Definition: a disadvantage or deficiency, especially a physical or mental impairment that interferes with or prevents normal achievement in a particular area.
 
I, like much of the country, have loved watching the Paralympics over the last few weeks. However, unlike the majority of the country, I was lucky enough to go and see it! On Wednesday the 5th of September I went with my family to go and see the evening session of the athletics at the stadium. This evening included watching Johnnie Peacock and Oscar Pistorius qualify for the men's T44 100m sprint.
 
Both athletes stunned me. The need and desire to qualify and also to win was unlike anything I'd ever seen. Yet, what do we- the public- actually know about the athletes who only hear the ability in disability. Oscar Pistorius may be the poster boy for Paralympics but until I actually looked it up, I had no idea what his story was and why this "blade runner" was a blade runner.
 
Oscar Pistorius was born in month of November in 1986 in South Africa without a fibula, a long slim bone which runs from knee to ankle, in either leg. His parents, with the help of a doctor made the decision to have his legs amputated before he started learning to walk. He learnt to walk on prosthetic limbs and his life carried on like any other child until aged 16 he shattered his knee playing rugby.

He was advised by a doctor that running would aid his recovery. Then, during a school meet, he ran 100m in a time of 11.72 seconds when the current Paralympic record sat at 12.20 seconds. Later that year, a 17 year old Pistorius competed at the Athens Olympic Games. He broke the 200m World Record, gaining gold and a bronze in the 100m and "the fastest man on no legs" became an overnight sensation. He's since competed in specialised and able bodied events all over the globe, recently and probably most famously competing in the London Olympic Games.
 
Whereas Pistorius is a veteran of sorts, this is the first Paralympic Games for Johnnie Peacock. He lost his leg due to contracting Meningitis aged 5. After shattering the World Record for his classification by 0.06 seconds back in June, the 19 year old secured his spot in the Paralympics. Pitted as the next big thing in Paralympic sprinting, the rumours that Peacock could beat Pistorius seemed true enough when I watched them both qualify - Peacock sat 0.1 seconds faster than Pistorius.
 
Seeing these runners up close hit home for me. Many of them have been through trials and tribulations throughout their lives and none have got off scott free. I complain about washing the dishes and this person has no legs?! What's wrong with me? I don't have a disability, I haven't lost a limb or contracted a disease. Why can't I do what they're doing? And that’s the thing Oscar and Johnnie have taught me, there's no such thing as can't. At all. If you want to do it, then do it. With hard work and solid determination you can get pretty much anywhere.

So, in the true spirit of what I had just watched that night (knowing that I could and should do anything I want to) I shoved all my insecurities aside and stood by the barrier and screamed like a tween fan girl as Oscar Pistorius walked past after winning gold and breaking the world record in the men’s 4x100m relay. I quite literally gave those screaming twihard fans who practically have a panic attack when they see R-patz a run for their money- I am that much of a fan. Apparently all of that fangirling worked.

Unlike the many other people who watched Pistorius win gold, I have another claim to fame. I am proud to say that I, on that night, high fived “the fastest man on no legs”, because there really is no such thing as can’t.

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