Impossible To Ignore
Impossible to ignore. A sentiment that will reverberate through the streets of Tokyo for many years. Tokyo’s 2020 Paralympics is the epitome of these three words.
Our team at Sports For Champions lived, breathed, and soaked in all of the emotion generated through the stellar performances from Team G.B.’s athletes. The sporting world arrived in Tokyo with field-related expectations of accruing medals. That goal was shattered, but we as humans are more than just a statistic.
United By Emotion
All participants will leave Tokyo united by emotion.
The opening ceremony held its promise to capture a moment in time, allowing us to leave our external pressures to one side and focus on being present. Creating an organized event that can draw together people of all cultures, backgrounds, and sporting disciplines amid a pandemic is no easy feat by any stretch of the imagination. Japan managed to structure an inclusive environment and welcomed the world to watch along from the comfort of their homes.
Let the 16th Paralympic Games at the Olympic Stadium be a reminder that our differences unite us. Being different should be celebrated. Diversity creates opportunity. Opportunity leads to pleasant shared experiences.
Having the privilege to witness thousands of our favorite Paralympians congregate in one giant space highlights the importance of unity and courage during these testing times.
Sports For Champion’s Paralympic ambassador
On the topic of ‘favorite Paralympians,’ in our previous blog (which you can read here), we shed light on the schedule of events for our very own Sports For Champions ambassador, motivational speaker, and competitive Wheelchair Rugby athlete, Ayaz Bhuta.
Boy, oh boy, did he impress. With the weight of a nation on his shoulders, Ayaz and his teammates plowed through their group stages, only narrowly losing out to the USA by a point.
Ayaz Bhuta showcasing his Tokyo 2020 Paralympics gold medal
That loss would mean that we’d face the bookie’s favorites, Japan, in a tense semi-final match. But, despite the odds being stacked against G.B., we rose up like David Vs. Goliath and put the game to bed in a convincing fashion to set up a grudge match against the USA in the final. To ensure that history doesn’t repeat itself, Team G.B. left everything on the field in yet another tight affair, only this time, managing to edge out a mouth-watering win to secure gold for G.B.
We look forward to welcoming Ayaz home with open arms and expect nothing less than his personal calendar to be fully booked with athletic visits for schools to deliver his inspirational sports workshops to children across the United Kingdom.
Tokyo’s curtain call
All good things come to an end, but that’s never to say our memories can’t live on. Just as signified during the Opening Ceremony a fortnight ago, Tokyo’s expressive Closing Ceremony assured us that the past two weeks of love, drama, and hope will cement the Paralympic Games as a staple of future events.
The Ceremony’s spotlight depicting the journey of a young boy who has fallen under the spell of the ‘Paralympic effect,’ emphasizing the child’s will to take action, inspire his cohort, nation and ignite a passion for Sport to be instilled in future generations of young athletes like himself.
The ultimate reward
Tokyo 2020 wouldn’t have been possible without the ongoing contributions inspired through schools, Olympic / Paralympic committees who sacrifice their time to advertise and promote the event within their own communities. As such, the Closing Ceremony paid its utmost respect to the diligence of local and overseas schools (including multiple athletes) with several awards.
Having already stressed the significance of diversity, did I mention that the Closing Ceremony paid tribute to the theme with its very own imagined reality – DIVERCITY! Divercity embodies the positive aspects of working together, being conflict-averse, and embracing our differences for the world to see.
Great Britain’s hopes shine brightly
Team G.B. prophesized a tally of 100 – 140 medals in total. This figure was never in doubt. Altogether, the effort from Great Britain’s commonwealth athletes paid dividends. G.B. capitalized on their ambitions and secured a total of 124 medals. Stunning performances across the board guaranteed a second-place finish in the Paralympics behind China (who accumulated a staggering 207 medals) and ahead of the USA (with a proud 104 medals).
The highlight reel
While no one performance can take away from another’s success, it’d be rude of me not to highlight several of the standout performances in the Paralympics that I’ve vividly played on loop within my own mind.
Namely, a lot can be said for Ben Watson, who just five years ago sat at his office chair and daydreamed about all of the athletes he saw on his T.V. screen. Not only did he achieve the impossible dream of competing at the Paralympics, but Ben also blew away his competition in the men’s C3 cycling road time trial event to secure gold for G.B.
A headshot of Cyclist Ben Watson who took home a gold medal for GB in the Tokyo 2020 Paralympics.
If you were looking for a heartfelt story, Anastasia Pagonis of the U.S. delivers. Anastasia was diagnosed with Autoimmune Retinopathy at 11 and entirely lost her sight by the age of 14. Anastasia openly discusses the mental adversity and anxiety attacks she faced at 17 years old in the run-up to setting a new World Record with a time of 4:54:49 in the women’s 400m freestyle S11 swimming event to win gold.
In a similar vein, Jessica Long overcame her new, painful reality of having to live with an extra vertebra to conquer the pool and add another silver medal to her shiny collection (for a new total of 27).
Passing the baton
The sun may have set on Tokyo 2020, but the energy created will permeate and build anticipation for Paris 2024 to eclipse this monumental success of an event.
Sensing a greater chance in the landscape, many athletes, including both Ayaz and Jonnie Peacock, have voiced their wishes for the future of athletics. Ayaz has called for greater representation for individuals from South Asian and Muslim communities within the Paralympics. Jonnie proposes that Para athletes should benefit from pay being equivalent to that of non-disabled Olympic athletes in the Diamond League meetings.
One thing is for sure, the Paralympics’ exponential 10-year growth is set to follow the same trajectory, which will mean a more lavish reception for the Paralympic Games on the biggest stages.