… what an amazing set of role models we have had in our Team GB Paralympians! With the strains of Sunday’s final Closing Ceremony still ringing in our ears, and the images of fire still dancing before our eyes, as well as the images of the thousands of people who lined the streets of London yesterday, we should spend a few moments celebrating some of them and their amazing successes. Defined in advance to some large extent by their disability and disadvantage, they have inspired us – and the generation to come, most certainly – to shed our preconceptions and to see them for the able, astonishing athletes they are. Congratulations to them all – they have indeed lived up to the watchword of London 2012. May the joy and triumph of their successes carry them – and us – into a new era of respect and inclusiveness, accompanying a genuine acknowledgement of the power of all humanity.
Two women we must never forget:
Ellie Simmonds, the 17 year old swimmer born with dwarfism, has accumulated 4 medals at the London 2012 Paralympics, and has won over people with her determination, enthusiasm and optimism. She was the youngest Briton to win either an Olympic or Paralympic medal, when she was 13 years and 9 months, she was the youngest winner of the BBC Young Sports Personality of the year in 2008, and the youngest recipient of the MBE, at the age of 14. She stands out for her utter determination.
Sarah Storey, the track cyclist, won Britain’s first gold medal at the London 2012 Paralympics, and accumulated three more, giving her a total of 11 golds including previous Paralympics, and meaning that she equals Tanni Grey-Thompson’s record. Born without a functioning left hand after her arm became entangled in the umbilical cord in the womb, she has never let this stand in her way, and competes (and wins) against able-bodied cyclists too.
They are representative of the many, many other female athletes of Team GB at these Paralympics, who deserve our admiration and praise. Thank you to them all for everything that they have given us.