Saturday, 27 July 2013

What legacy?

The BBC and Channel 4 for that matter have both been pushing home that we are nearing the one-year anniversary of London 2012 (in fact the Olympic games got off to a start this time last year). Legacy was a key aspect in planning (as shown in the John Morton sitcom based on the Olympic Deliverance Committee) and was a major factor in the games being awarded to Great Britain back in 2005. I don’t know much about how much (if any) grassroots sport for able-bodied people has changed over the last year but I can safely say that overall, the Paralympics has left none of that promised legacy when it comes to disability sport (from a personal point of view).

You may disagree with that statement wholeheartedly and if so, I’d like to read your comments because I’m always interested in hearing other opinions.

Recently, there have been numerous articles regarding the question of legacy and most have reached the same conclusion as me. Of course, there are positive examples of a sporting legacy such as my local gym. If it weren’t for the successful Paralympic Games, Westminster Lodge would not have been redeveloped with top class facilities for the disabled. However, on the whole, it has been thoroughly disappointing and I am not the only one to make that judgement.

None of the changes have happened. Yes, there are sport clubs disabled people can join up and down the county but it was like that before last year. You have to actively go searching for them because the sports are not promoted enough. The media, institutions, and government can all take a portion of the blame. Then, there are attitudes. Apparently, the Paralympics supposedly opened the eyes of normal people to the world of disability but you only have to read my blog posts to see that only lasted a month or so. Disabled people have returned to the underbelly of society where Cameron et al think we belong (please sign the WOWpetition so the underclass can fight back).

Unfortunately, the article by Amelia Gentleman (, which included a few quotes from me, was right. I hate to say it but looks like my scepticism has turned into a harsh truth. When the spotlight was on Great Britain, the organizers gave the impression that disabled people are equal but now the attention has gone, the feeling of being brushed under the carpet has come back. That is why I get annoyed when legacy is mentioned. Please come and live my life. Then, you can truly decide if change is evident.

One thing that has changed is people’s expectations. It is so unrealistic to think that everyone can be the next Hannah Cockcroft (my hero). Everyone has different conditions that limit him or her but the public don’t seem to understand that. For example, my brother was pushing me up a hill the other day and two blokes shouted over “why don’t you stop being lazy and push”? Words failed me. This was a mere example of the true legacy. People thinking they know about disability but remaining blissfully ignorant about the complexity. I am training for the 2015 London Marathon but my Ataxia means I’ll have to do a hell of a lot more training before I can self-propel up a hill. People obviously don’t get that though and need to be educated properly.

Bye for now!

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