Like millions of people around the world, I can’t wait for the start of the Paralympics.
What it represents – elite sport of the absolute highest levels, and the chance for athletes to make a name for themselves that will go down in history – is unmatched in anywhere except for a few sports.
For an athlete, the Paralympic Games really are the pinnacle.
Where I suppose I’m different from a lot of people looking forward to the start of the Paralympics, though, is that I’m really looking forward to two Paralympics. First, as a spectator, the Tokyo Games and second, as an athlete and assuming the next few months go to plan, the Beijing Games next year.
Assuming I do get there, Beijing won’t be my first experience of the Paralympics.
In 2018 I returned home with a gold, two silvers and a bronze medal from the PyeongChang Games, and I can still remember everything about the athlete experience, so I can give a pretty good guess at how the team are feeling now they’re out there and waiting for the Opening Ceremony to begin. Probably some nervousness, some excitement and a lot of focus as their individual competitions come onto the horizon.
For me, I’m looking forward to getting to sit back and enjoy the next couple of weeks as a fan.
The past 18 months has been incredibly difficult for disabled people, and the Paralympics – both the coming Summer Games and the imminent Winter Games – are an important reminder that disability needn’t be a barrier to success in any field, least of all sport.
Across para-sport, there’s a real community, with athletes, coaches and team members working and celebrating together, even when we’re competing against one another. With that community comes a whole lot of support, so I’m sure that most Winter Paralympic hopefuls will, like me, be taking every opportunity to see how our summer counterparts are getting on, even as we’re preparing for a hard winter of training and competition.
There’s an exciting fortnight ahead – it’ll be worth tuning in for.