Inspire A Generation | The Paralympics Legacy
Did the Paralympics Deliver A Positive Legacy for Disabled People? Choe Ball-Hopkins reflects on her own experience.
So the other week I came across this quote in a Scope Report “Our new research reveals that a quarter (28%) of disabled people did not feel the Paralympics delivered a positive legacy for disabled people once the two weeks were over. Over a third (38%) think that attitudes have not improved or have got worse since 2012.”
Well, do I agree with this?? I do get where this report is coming from but I think they are missing the point slightly.
People's Knowledge of Parasport Has Grown and Grown
The legacy of London 2012 was “Inspire a Generation” which I think can only really be looked at in a sporting context and if you look at it that way then we are on a very different page to what the quote suggested.
I have been involved with sport for nearly 10 years and I think during this time people's involvement and knowledge of Parasport has only grown and grown. I have tried a few different sports from Wheelchair Tennis and Wheelchair Basketball to Athletics and Archery.
To put it into context in January 2012 (when I was preparing to try and be selected for the London 2012 Paralympics in Athletics) I ended up in intensive care and it was very touch-and-go as they say. Then on Friday 13th (of all days), I was told I had glandular fever and would need to complete my GCSE’s from home. I wouldn’t be back up on my feet - so to say - until the end of that year. No London 2012!
But I did manage to go to London to watch the Olympic Archery. With that in mind at the end of 2012, when I could start looking at doing sport again and had to find a more suitable sport for my body, I thought about trying Archery. The end of 2012 into the start of 2013 saw me in a cast after having my thumb fused so Archery started up for me properly the Spring of 2013.
Christmas that year Santa came early when I was told I was being offered a place on the Archery GB Potential Programme which of course I accepted! 2014 was a blur of 3 internationals, 2 World Records and 1 European Bronze Medal. This all put me in a good position for being one of the Para Archers going to the Rio 2016 Paralympics! But. Yes there’s a but. The end of 2014 I was unwell, then 2015 I had to have my thumb refused so I came back into training the Autumn of 2015 giving me a year to get myself Rio-Ready! I was on track for this, proving so many people wrong … until an accident in the gym at a training camp resulted in having my shoulder reconstructed and wired back together. I was gutted.
But as you will know, I have still done so much over the last year and my sights are very much still set on making a Paralympic Games; hopefully in Tokyo in 3 years time!
Inspiring A Generation
The important part to this story is that I was part of the generation that was inspired by the London 2012 Paralympics and I know I am not the only one. So if you think there was no positive outcome from that games maybe you need to consider listening to what I am saying here. Does this story sound negative to you? Yes, there has been a lot of negative things that have happened, but always approached with positivity and with the Paralympic Legacy in mind!
If you think about the phrase “Inspire a Generation”. It isn’t necessarily about making things better for us right now, it's about improving things for the generations to come, to inspire them to keep going. Things for disabled people are improving and the only way that will continue is if we keep making sure it does. So this report says “Over a third (38%) think that attitudes have not improved or have got worse since 2012”. Well, I am not sure I agree with this, but if there are people who think this is the case, the only way that is going to change is if you make the change.
A friend of mine who is a Paralympic Table Tennis player, who was also inspired by London 2012 and competed in Rio 2016, quote's Mahatma Gandhi,
"you have to be the change you want to see in the world."
I say no more … just think about that!