Golden glory for Great Britain and Northern Ireland, that is what Tokyo 2020 has hosted for our tremendous Olympic athletes and all those who have supported them on such a uniquely difficult journey.
Kenny X 2 then add to make 12 golds in one household, totally tremendous. Alongside, a velodrome hosting British medal success, not to mention brilliant BMX and mountain biking. Gymnastics, supreme swimmers, divers, track and field, triathlon and all that make up 65 marvellous medals. Respect to all concerned on making this a reality.
So, time for our Paralympians to take the stage, the greatest stage of their lives. The trials and tribulations of this past year to be put aside, time to focus, to compete, to medal.
As we build to Tokyo, a great time to reflect on some of that Paralympic history, where it all began. In this series of ‘Paralympic Perspectives’ I will revisit Seoul 1988, Barcelona 1992, Sydney 2000 and lastly, London 2012.
But today, a trip to Stoke Mandeville 1948. Post War Britain, post war Olympic Games at White City and, simultaneously, on the lawns in front of the spinal injuries unit, the Paralympics was born.
How so? Why then?
As is always the case, it was down to the vision, the leadership and the determination of one individual, seeing the world differently. Sir Ludwigg Guttman, bringing into being an archery competition between spinal injury patients. Through this, the Paralympic Games, the Games of the possible was born. For those on the sunny afternoon at Stoke Mandeville, certainly, but also for thousands of future Paralympic competitors, through who’s performances, millions of minds altered for the better forever.
Who could have known that those arrows would fly through time. Tokyo, 1964, the first Games to be held in the same city as the Olympics. Seoul, 1988, the first modern Paralympics and the first time the games had been back in the same host city since Tokyo. Barcelona 1992, the people’s Paralympics. Sydney 2000, stunning and then London 2012, in the words of the then International Paralympic Committee President, “the greatest Paralympic Games ever.”
So to our team for Tokyo 2020 Paralympic Games, your country is with you. Unable to be there in person but right here for each and every performance, each stride, push, pedal, every personal best, each and every medal.
We have the Paralympic history, set fair from Stoke Mandeville, you have the Paralympic future. Tokyo 2020, your stage, your time, your Games.
Paralympic Perspectives II: Seoul 1988, my first Paralympic Games
Paralympic Perspectives III: Barcelona 1992, six golds at a single Games!
Paralympic Perspectives IV: Sydney 2000, “Bad day at the office”
Paralympic Perspectives V: London 2012, “the greatest Paralympic Games ever”
Paralympic Perspectives VI: Paralympic classification explained