Paralympics 2021 in Tokyo: Di six decades of Games wey change lives

 119644714 2020tokyologo Getty 1232278409 Di Paralympics dey take place for Tokyo soon as di Olympics end

Tue, 31 Aug 2021 Source: www.bbc.com

Di Tokyo 2020 Paralympic opening ceremony go celebrate 60 years (well, technically 61 due to Covid).

Dat na six decades since di founding di sporting event wey showcase elite athletes and help to create real change for pipo wit disabilities.

As preparation for di Games dey start, di BBC tok to competitors from around di world wey represent dia kontri for di highest level over many years.

Life changing

"I think [di Paralympics] get big impact, dem bring together pipo from all over di world, wia dem no fit before," na so Baroness Masham of Ilton tok, wey compete for di UK for di first Paralympic Games for Rome in 1960.

"I think dem don make big difference."

Sake of one horse-riding accident for 1958 wey leave her for wheelchair, na one man wey treat her follow for pipo wey discover di Paralympic Games, Dr Ludwig Guttmann.

"Once one pesin dey for wheelchair, sport na part of rehabilitation," she tok. "Na part of life. Na part of di man system."

Dr Guttmann start di Stoke Mandeville Games for di UK (dem name am afta di hospital wia e treat spinal injuries) wey later change into di Paralympics.

For Baroness Masham, wey be sports fan before her accident, di chance to compete for di first Games na exciting opportunity.

"To take part dey very good, as na international come make am better," she tok. "And I like pipo from all over di world."

Missing medal

Her time for di Paralympics for Rome, and di following Games for Tokyo and Tel Aviv, dey very successful - winning three medals for swimming and table tennis, through not all of dem go home.

"We go restaurant by di Trevi Fountain for Rome," she tok.

"Somebody say dem wan see my medals, and we show dem my medals, and afterwards I put dem down di side of my wheelchair, and my gold one fall comot."

Di local press hear di tori and go wit di more exciting (if e no correct) version of events say she deliberately troway am inside di famous fountain.

"Wey I never do, but I never get di replacement," she add. "Dat thing pain me well-well."

Breaking boundaries

To compete for di Paralympics na also something wey get huge effect on Anne Wafula Strike life.

"For me finding sport give me new lease of life."

She bin need to use wheelchair since contracting polio as pikin, but only find di for her 30s.

"Sport make me find myself again - I fit dey on di track, for di gym, training along wit ppo wey get complete body. I feel like say we dey equal and my self-esteem really begin to grow."

Anne compete for Kenya for di 2004 Games for Athens.

"E dey magical, di happiness and di joy wey e carry come, di satisfaction dey deep."

Surprisingly, despite di region long and successful record for athletics na she be di first wheelchair track athlete from east Africa to compete for di Paralympics.

"Dat wan big. Wen I dey grow up wit my disability dem no value me for my village.

"From being di outcast of a community to standing on dat stage and flying di flag - dis na di power of sport."

Anne also compete internationally for di UK, wia she first take up di sport and move to afta marraige.

But for dia too she bin don dey disappointed about di speed of change for pipo wey get disabilities - she receive compensation sake of high-profile case against one UK train company wey no get disabled toilet access for dia trains.

"I dey get frustrated wen a developed nation no dey lead di world properly."

Afta switching her focus away from di track she work as a director of British Athletics and as a champion for equality in sports for di Commonwealth, as well as collect award as MBE.

"I be di first black person on a nationally-funded sporting board [for UK] and dat one really show you wia society dey and how we need to pick ourselves up."

From war to sport

Murlikant Petkar na one of di first athlete for a different kontri - India.

"As pesin wey first recieve di nation first gold medal for Paralympics na di happiest and unforgettable moment of my life," e tok.

Murlikant bin get serious injury afat one aerial attack during di 1965 India-Pakistan War, and come take up swimming wey make huge difference to im recovery.

"Yes, to be disabled pesin initially dey make me very sad and sad part of my life, wey I choose to leave behind di moment I understand my place as an athlete for myself and my nation.

"If to sey I no play di Paralympic Games I for don drown for my own sadness as I no fit do anything."

For im achievements, wey also include to compete for di 1968 Games, Murlikant recieve di Padma Shri award by India - one of di kontri highest honours.

E think sey many more Indian athletes go see success for Tokyo.

"I feel sey our current and future Paralympic athletes go come out wit flying colours and achieve many more gold medals for India and create more such moments of pride for all of us."

Making a difference

All dey Paralympians dey look forward to di Games for Tokyo, wey dem bin postpone by a year due to Covid.

"I dey glad sey dem go still do am, because of all di training dem don do - I hope sey dem do very well," Baroness Masham tok.

Anne also say afta all di uncertainty di Paralypmics go finally go ahead on Tuesday.

"I just dey very happy sey di Games go take place. You fit imagine di athletes wey don train for years?

"Thinking about going and starting families or changing careers - and all di tins wey don hapen sake of di pandemic."

But she think di athletes go rise to di challenge.

"Wen dem dey test everyone di good thing wit disabled pipo na sey we dey resilient, and we dey like dat because we dey battle plenty barriers.

"Every day you wake up new challenge dey wey you need to navigate or overcome."

And dat, Anne believe sey e fit make real difference.

"Sport no dey only break down barriers - sport dey empower, sport dey motivate. I dey hope sey dem go use these superstars wen dem go back home, dem go use these superstars as a catalyst for change."

Source: www.bbc.com
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