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Children Of A Lesser Olympics?; London 2012 Paralympics Divide Opinion
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Children Of A Lesser Olympics?; London 2012 Paralympics Divide Opinion

It has been reported that opinion is divided over next year's Paralympics in London. It's understandable. The Paralympics, the Olympics for Olympians who aren't invited to participate in The Olympics, are two different events, held at separate times, and one is 17 days long whilst the other is 12 days long; and in which one lot of Olympians are allowed to use the facilities after the first lot are finished. Clearly opinion is going to be divided about what are essentially two different events during different time periods and of different durations. That makes sense; doesn't it?

However, what doesn't make sense is this. The principle of the Olympic games, drawn from the thoughts of Baron de Coubertin, thought to be the modern Olympics' father, essentially says that participation and struggle are the heart of Olympic endeavour. It does not say that the Olympic heart lies in the division of Olympians into those who can participate and those who can't - not because they are not Olympians, but because they are less able Olympians. This is a mere breath away from arguing that they need a lesser Olympics.

I can already hear the cries of dissent. Shouts of "Come on, a wheelchair could never be on the track at the same time as fully functioning athletes. It would be sad, terrible; a travesty." Maybe; but at least let the Olympians have the say; the true Olympians.The ones who participate and struggle to go Citius, Altius, Fortius; Swifter, Higher, Stronger.

There is a perceptible anti-Olympic philosophy at work in having Olympians compete in two different Olympics. It is divisive at it's core; therefore reports that opinion is divided is about as surprising as reading reports that half a dozen eggs is said to be equal to six eggs. Oh really? that's a surprise!

Sarcasm aside, the Olympian is said to be an individual of majestic manners, who rises above mundane affairs and moves past those who don't participate or struggle as much as they do. If these are the qualities of the Olympian, then it would have to be said of those who aren't invited to compete in THE Olympics, that they are lacking majesty; don't rise above mundanity and don't participate and struggle as much as those who are invited.

I remember seeing a man on a bus some years ago. He was beaming; wearing a gold-medal round his neck and looking for some kind of recognition. He was also not what general society would describe as obvious Olympic material. He eventually got off the bus looking a bit sad. The following morning I was informed via the mass-media, along with that packed bus, that the man who lacked Olympic material was our National Gold Medal Winning Champion who was using his bus to come home from the Common Wealth Games; The ones for the not-obviously Common Wealth material.

That was the day I began to wonder about this strange phenomenon of split Olympics, where the unifying spirit of all Olympians is itself split. My fear is that the greatest Olympian tragedy of all has passed by quietly - like the man on the bus- that tragedy being that participation and struggle has given way to division, and a perception that there might be children of a lesser Olympics.

Olympus itself might weep if this is true. I hope it's not.

Street Talk

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