In 2 days time another Olympic Opening Ceremony will be upon us & the eyes of the world will be on Rio just as it was on London back in 2012. It is hard to imagine that 4 years has passed since that momentous occasion & so much has changed for you during that time.
I have always been inspired by the Olympic Games ever since my Grandad got me up & told me to watch history being made in the men’s 400m hurdles final at the 1968 Olympic hrld in Mexico City.. I was still in infant school at the time but when David Hemery won a Gold Medal for Team GB with a world record time against the odds I was so inspired I never forgot that moment.
Every Olympics since then as had a special memory for me. In 1972 it was the Russian Gymnast Olga Korbut whose skills on the beam inspired budding gymnasts like me to get involved in the sport. In 1976 it was again gymnastics & this time the Romanian Gymnast Nadia Commenech who scored a perfect 10 on the asymmetric bars.
Perhaps one of my favourite Olympics was the 1984 games held in LA. I was working in the USA on a summer camp for girls & all the talk was of their golden girl Mary Decker falling over the feet of the tiny SA athlete Zola Budd now competing for Team GB. The fall was the end of her Olympics.
Almost unnoticed but not by me was the Gold Medal won by Team GB in the 1500m by Seb Coe someone who has become my University’s most famous Alumnus. Seb of course went on to become the mastermind behind the London 2012 bid.
Fast forward to London 2012, the games were special for me as they were on home soil & were quite simply the best sporting occasion of my generation unlikely to be topped.
They were also special for another reason not only did they have the fastest man on 2 legs in Usain Bolt but also in you the man billed as the fastest man on no legs. Oscar what a privilege to be the first athlete to be given the opportunity to compete in an able bodied Olympics & the smile on your face as you walked into the stadium with the SA team said it all. How proud & happy you looked Oscar & how I wish I could turn back time to witness this event in all its glory once more.
At the beginning of this post I mentioned that I was inspired by David Hemery who was really my first Olympic hero & here’s where I want to encourage you Oscar, prior to London 2012 he came to give a talk at my University as part of the Torch Relay celebrations. After 44 years I was able to meet him in person & thank him for that special Olympic moment way back in my childhood which had stayed with me all of my life.
For you Oscar although the London Olympics might seem so long ago now somewhere in the world there will be a little girl or boy who will have watched you compete & maybe inspire them to take up sport. It might be many years later but that same child may have a chance meeting with you & credit you with the success they have had in their chosen sport. How special would that be.
Finally I am not one to quote Shakespeare but a passage from the Tempest was read out in the Isles of Wonder sequence during the opening cetemony & the last line seems so relevant to your situation:
‘The clouds me thought would open & show riches. Ready to drop upon me, that when I waked I cried to dream
Oscar I believe that one day you will realise the hopes & dreams of your youth. Never forget you became part of history during the London Olympics as the first Para athlete to take part in an able bodied Olympics. . In time you will become a legend & although Olympics will come & go people never forget the legends.
Bless you Oscar