Only A Game? - Forget Deckard, the real Blade Runner’s in town

Oscar Pistorious.
Oscar Pistorious.

He may share the same nickname as the 1981 Ridley Scott sci-fi thriller ‘Blade Runner’ but one thing’s for sure, the Tyrell Corporation have had nothing to do with the rise of South African sprinter, Oscar Pistorious.

Twenty-five year old Pistorious was born with with fibular hemimelia (congenital absence of the fibula) in both legs and when he was 11 years-old he had both legs amputated.

Pistorious has taken gold medals for the 100m, 200m and 400m at Paralympic Games in Athens and Beijing and is hoping to emerge with another two or three at this year’s Games in London.

Now, if the fact that Pistorious is without both his legs isn’t enough to inspire you then get this, he only started running eight years ago.

After sustaining a knee injury whilst playing rugby, Pistorious started running as part of his rehabilitation plan - he hasn’t looked back since.

The South African is perhaps the world’s most famous Paralympian and even competed at the London Olympic Games this month.

The Paralympics kicks off this Wednesday and it’s because of people like Pistorious that I am looking forward to it.

The Paralympics is seen by some as the poor sister of the Olympic Games but I don’t share this opinion.

The Olympics is the crème-de-la-crème of sports events but I find the Paralympic Games much more interesting and inspiring.

Throughout the duration of the London Olympics we were bombarded with the sentiment that the performance of British athletes would inspire a generation.

The legacy of the Olympic Games is about the promise of sporting excellence amongst younger generations and while I think that that’s something that should be celebrated, the Paralympics is about so much more.

If, at my age, (the wrong side of 30), you can kiss goodbye to any dream of representing Ireland or Great Britain at an Olympic Games - our ships have sailed.

However, the Paralympic athletes who overcome such disabilities as leg and arm amputations and blindness to compete in sport sends out an important message - they make me think that anything is possible.

Whilst the Olympics inspires a younger generation towards sport, the Paralympics inspires an entire population to overcome whatever challenges stand in their way.

Some critics of the Paralympic Games will take the easy way out and will try to demean its value by comparing it to the Olympics.

Obviously, when it comes to physical prowess and ability many Paralympians would not stand a chance against their Olympic counterparts but that’s stating the obvious and it’s also missing the point.

Athletes like Oscar Pistorious are without the very limbs they need to run, swim, throw and jump yet they refuse to take no for an answer and find a way to run, swim, throw and jump - I just find the whole concept remarkable.

Pistorious doesn’t have legs but he runs, team G.B. football captain David Clarke is blind yet he plays blind football and has scored over 100 goals for England and Tanni Grey-Thompson was born with spina bifida but still she’s won 11 gold medals as a Paralympian and has won the London Marathon six times.

Paralympians could teach us ‘able bodied’ people a thing or two about stoicism.

The odds are stacked against them but they refuse to give up. I know some perfectly healthy people who moan at the prospect of having to walk to the shop or phone in sick to work with the slightest of coughs or sore heads.

You see, whilst the Olympics is designed to inspire young children to take up sport the Paralympics has a much more universally important message. It doesn’t just inspire a generation, it inspires an entire people towards believing that any challenge or obstacle can be overcome.