There are lots of words that can be used to describe any individual’s personal Paralympics experience. Some roll way too easily off the tongue these days - like inspirational, warriors and superheroes.
Yes – those sort of words are also used to describe the endeavours of our Olympians but not always with the same intent.
It’s important to remember in this context that Paralympics is intended to convey a competition that’s parallel to the Olympics rather than one for paraplegic athletes – which whilst it is, it is also a competition for athletics in many other classifications.
Australians have this time around been able to tune in to an unprecedented coverage of a Paralympic Games and many will have had the chance for the first time to develop their own thoughts about which words for them best describe the commitments and performances of the competitors.
But in the end it is about the culmination of at least a four year dream for each athlete taking part. They have readied themselves with the assistance of their individual support environments to achieve their best possible performances against the best in the world
Hopefully for many that also means a place in a final or even a medal.
Sounds familiar doesn’t it – pretty parallel to something else.
For non-participants the Paralympics present the odd challenge but plenty of enjoyment.
Unlike the Olympics in one regard, the competition officials stay in the village alongside the athletes.
Moving around inside the Village involves some healthy walks but is also simple enough once you remember to look out for wheelchair trains and arrowhead formations of visually impaired athletes heading towards you - or more concerningly, arriving from behind. Not to mention the Dutch team – most of whom have been supplied with a bike for village travel.
We are also sharing transport to and from the venues, which is an experience in itself – especially with the penchant of Brazilian bus driver to take a different route every day.
Once there, one very pleasing aspect for technical officials about the Paralympic competition sessions is their length - 10am to 8.30pm with a four hour break in between unlike many of those a month ago that dragged on towards midnight.
It’s nice for us but most importantly that works best for the athletes – as it should be for that is why any Games exist.
But they also exist for the host country to savour – and whilst the people of Brazil may have felt ostracised from the Olympics they have embraced the Paras with passion.