Overcoming odds: Paralympians inspire in Rio

Jennyfer Tucker

Swimmers make a turn on the wall as the people in the stands erupt. They push to edge out the competition as each stroke is more and more taxing. These athletes are the best of the best and as the race comes to an end the swimmers pull themselves out of the pool, many sitting on the side waiting for assistance. Several attach prosthetic legs as they leave the pool and make their way to the podium to hear their country’s national anthem play as they receive their medal. Paralympians are athletes who capture the heart of sports by facing adversity as they pursue their passion.

With the conclusion of the Rio Olympics, it seems that the Paralympics have been overshadowed. In London, tickets for the Paralympics sold out, but in Rio neither the Olympics or the Paralympics sold out, which could be because of public safety concerns in Rio or the Zika virus or because Rio did not adequately promote the events. Poor management and budget cuts on Brazil’s behalf also contributed to the problems plaguing the Rio Olympics.

Athletes who take part in the Paralympics shouldn’t have less opportunities than someone in the Olympics, because officials weren’t wise with the money. There always seems to be enough money for everything when the Olympics come around, so why not do the same for the Paralympics? They should feel just as important for making it to the Olympics and overcoming challenges they have experienced in their lifetime.

In the Olympics, there are mega-athletes with God given abilities, like swimmer Michael Phelps and gymnast Simone Biles. They train and work hard, but whatever they do may come naturally. To a certain degree when it comes to Paralympians, there are things that could stop them from whatever they want or used to do, but they don’t let those disabilities define who they are as they continued to pursue their dreams.

Whether an athlete was born with a disability or was involved in an accident that caused one, they should be able to make the decision on whether or not to keep going. With recovery comes hard work and dedication. Going from training and working out all the time to being hurt and learning to work with a disability is difficult. Athletes born with a disability will eventually learn how to play the sport just like everyone else except with a restriction that another person doesn’t have.  That’s why Paralympians are the true story tellers of the human spirit. Watching an athlete drain shots from the free throw line while sitting in a wheelchair or watching an archer pull his bow back with his mouth while his lone arm extends to steady the riser is truly inspiring. They are the people who inspire me want to face the difficulties of life head on. People don’t pay enough attention to these athletes, but they should. They can give others a sense of hope. Just when someone thinks they can’t do something anymore and that their world is crashing down because of an incident that happened in their life, Paralympians remain as a testament of what can be accomplished. They make the saying “minor setback for a major comeback” true.