After several weeks of waiting following the close of the 2016 Olympic Games, the Paralympics has finally kicked off this evening with an incredible opening ceremony.
As I write this the countries are slowly filing in one by one (currently on Honduras) and bringing with them the jigsaw pieces that will soon form one gigantic puzzle decorated with the face of every Paralympian at this year’s Games.
It’s only been a few hours since the festivities started here on UK TV but I’m already feeling the amazing sense of pride that stuck with me throughout the Olympics last month.
If anything the feeling is even stronger.
Everyone walking through that stadium has their own story of the hardships they’ve had to face, and ultimately overcome, to become the Paralympians they are today. They’ve all faced inequality in one way or another throughout they’re life, and will still continue to do so as the world slowly adjusts to accept everyone that doesn’t fit the privileged view of the masses.
That hasn’t stopped them though.
Just as our amazing sports men and women that competed in last month’s Olympics are an inspiration to us all, so too are these Paralympians. Each and every last one of them.
No matter who they are, or where they’ve come from, it’s amazing to see each one of them defying the odds to do their country proud.
If the Olympics didn’t already make you feel like the world wasn’t such a bad place after all then the Paralympics definitely will.
Channel 4 commentator Krishnan Guru-Murthy has just called these athletes some of the most inspiring people in the world, and a truer word has never been spoken. There will be a whole new generation of children sat watching this year’s Paralympics who will find themselves with a whole host of new role models for them to look up to.
Kids with visual impairment. Kids in wheelchairs. Kids diagnosed with cerebal palsy, or spina bifida, or some other terrible condition that no-one deserves to suffer from.
Every one of them can watch this year’s Paralympics and know that nothing can stop them from achieving their dream. That they are just as important as everyone else.
Even kids that don’t suffer from any kind of disability can still watch with the innocent eyes of youth and see the world how it should be.
The Paralympics boasts equality like no other sporting event in the world, and I only wish that more people got excited about the competition the way they do the Olympics. Lord knows we need more of the positivity that these Games promote in the world today.
But at least we’re getting there, even if the progress is slow.
And I think that’s where I’ll end it.
With another twos hours still to come in this opening ceremony I look forward to seeing what else Rio has up their sleeves.
You can be sure that this won’t be the last you hear from me about the 2016 Paralympics, but for now I’ll say good luck.
Good luck to every athlete doing their country proud. What you’ve achieved already in simply making it to Rio is comparable to nothing else.
Whether you come home with a medal or not, you’ll be leaving the Paralympic Games a winner.