You already know I went to the Olympics and loved it. I am not sport mad but it was pretty amazing on several levels. Last week I was given tickets by British Airways to attend the Paralympics and I wondered if it would be different.
When I arrived, there were the same massive crowds, the same enthusiastic supporters from all over the world dressed in their country’s colours and often wearing silly costumes, the same happy, friendly volunteers directing people, and the same excitement!
We first went to wheelchair basketball and the place was packed. And that was different. When I went to synchronised swimming in the Olympics there were a lot of empty seats (the expensive seats), even though the supporters who were there were extremely enthusiatstic.
I loved seeing the full venues at the Paralympics, loved seeing all the supporters.
I don’t support the Paralympics because it’s the Right Thing to do, supporting people with disabilities, I have other reasons.
1. I support sport
We need to make sport a part of our everyday life. General fitness is as important as eating well. We have Jamie Oliver and his School Dinners, we need some athletes to lead a Get Off Yer Bum campaign as well! Fitness could become something we do almost without thinking about it, like cleaning our teeth. “You didn’t clean your teeth today? Ugh!” and “You didn’t exercise today? Ugh!”
Regular exercise reduces stress (the number one contributer to many diseases), wakes us up, clears our heads, helps us maintain a healthy weight and generally makes us healthier and happier.
You don’t have to train like an athlete to feel the benefit of exercise–a 40 minute walk does wonders for me!
2. I support the Olympic Ideal
The Olympic Ideal is that individual atheletes compete against each other in sport, in a peaceful competition without the baggage of politics, religion, or racism.
I love that when I attended Wheelchair Basketball at the weekend, even though everyone around me was British and the teams we were watching were Italy and South Africa, we were all cheering for every goal. The crowds were supporting athletes and performance.
3. I support opportunity
Why should a soldier return from war and sit on the sidelines because he’s lost two legs? How does that make him any less capable of contributing to society and sport? The Paralympics offer an opportunity to set goals and work towards them so that he might show himself and the world that although having two less legs means he has to make some adjustments, he can still be an equal member of our society.
The same applies to someone born with physical disabilities or learning difficulties. A society’s worth is judged on how they treat the most vulnerable people and by offering equal opportunities and support to all people in our society, we show our worth.
Helping individuals in our society gain personal satisfaction and success we only improve our strength as a society. It’s win-win!
4. I support good examples
As with any goal, I want to know that if I or anyone in my family becomes disabled–or if one of us has a child who is disabled there will be people we can look to for inspiration and guidance. Elite athletes, whether Paralympians or not, are all examples of hard work, determination and support: amazing examples to all of us, when looking forward to any goal!
5. It’s a great opportunity to offer the #HomeAdvantage
Even though I support all althetes in the Olympics and Paralympics, I love turning up to support the British team because this is their home turf, and it’s important to give them the home advantage!
British Airways have run a campaign to keep people at home to watch the Olympics and Paralympics because the home advantage means playing in your familiar surroundings but also being supported by more people. It doesn’t take a sports psychologist to show the obvious benefits of competing at home.
I support ParalympicsGB because of all these reasons, and also simply because I just love watching a good game of sport.
Are you going to the Paralympics? Do you know anyone competing?
Would you like to win tickets to see ParalympicsGB? You can do so on the British Airways Home Advantage site!
You can also find British Airways on Twitter, @British_Airways and tweet about offering your #HomeAdvantage support of #ParalympicsGB! Get out there and support your athletes!
Disclosure: British Airways gave me tickets to see the Paralympics.