Saturday, 8 September 2012

Paralympics 2012 – inspiring a generation

After the frustrations of exam board marking it is great to have something hugely positive to report.  This Thursday almost a hundred of our Pre-Prep pupils made the journey to the Olympic Park to watch the Paralympic athletics in the main stadium.  Thanks to the speedy rail connections I was able to go up and join them for part of the time and it was an experience which I, and they, will never forget. 

We were fortunate in having seats right down by the start line of the 100 metres and saw discus, shot put, 800m and 1,500m wheelchair racing.  Several medal ceremonies took place and we got to cheer athletes from Team GB and the blade runner himself, Oscar Pistorious.  It was a wonderful opportunity to spend some time with our younger pupils and they were great company.

The entire Paralympics movement is incredibly inspiring and there was a huge atmosphere of empowerment and positivity all round the venue.  The event which made the greatest impact on me was the triple jump for blind and visually impaired athletes.  The stadium was full to capacity and the cheers and clapping they received was deafening.  As they came onto the run-up their guide orientated them to face straight down the track and when they were ready 80,000 people fell totally silent to allow them to concentrate.  I tried to recreate the process in the garden at home and it is just incredible to imagine how they set off at speed with no visual information, counting their strides before leaping into the air and eventually landing in the sand.  Quite remarkable and a great example of trust, inner confidence and commitment.  I will be speaking in Chapel to the Prep School soon and think I know the theme I will be pursuing.