On the eve of the Paralympics in Rio perhaps it is time to reflect on some of the astounding athletes who will again overcome their disabilities to compete with each other for Olympic medals.
Four years ago the Paralympics came to London, following on from the hugely successful Olympics. It gripped the nation like never before and surprised commentators and columnists countrywide. I covered it for the British Paralympic Association as part of a team of three photographers and was amazed at a faultless event which inspired national pride and drew a crowd that got so behind a talented group of international athletes.
My previous trip to the Olympics had sent me anywhere but into the Olympic park, but at the Paralympics I experienced the stadium and the roar of the cheers for the first time. The infrastructure was smaller than the Olympics but the events still came into their own. Trekking back and forth from student digs every morning down the line to Stratford was a straightforward commute and brought me back into the normal world after the intensity of the games. It was almost a parallel universe after long hours in the stadium, pool and other areas was replaced by the day to day in Bow.
Some events stick out in my mind. Just as the 100m is a trophy event at the Olympics with Usain Bolt defending his world title, the Paralympic event (T44) was set up to be a major showdown. The much lauded Oscar Pistorius lined up against Britain’s Jonnie Peacock for the 100m Gold. A staggering 10.90 seconds later Peacock crossed the line followed by Richard Browne (USA) and Arnu Fourie (RSA). Pistorius followed to attain fourth pace but the crowd went wild with Jonnie’s Victory. I watched the whole thing (all 11 seconds of it) through my camera lens in the bunker at the end of the track .There is not much time to get things wrong, or indeed a re-shoot so I probably held my breath for the whole time!
I was delighted and honored when the post office used my image for their selection of British Paralympics gold medal winners stamps (http://www.myroyalmail.com/news/national/2012/09/proud-peacock). I consider this commemorative stamp as my “gold medal”. I am not going to Rio but I wish them all the best in a fantastic competition.