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Welcome to my blog. This is the first time I have really tried to do this seriously. I need to be able to document my thoughts about things in the world. A few people have suggested that I try using this medium. I likely won't write everyday, but when something is important to me, so that might be several times per week. We'll see how it goes. Who knows, I may decide that I have something worthwhile to say everyday.

Tell me what you think about what I'm saying. Let me know if you see a hole in what I'm saying. All I ask is that you are nice about it. Enjoy!

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Sunday, March 14, 2010

Why are the Paralympics seeming less important?

During the Olympics (Feb. 13-28) as i would travel down and back on Granville Street to my physio appt. i saw many flags on the front of houses. Every other car had at least 1 small Canadian flag flying from it, sometimes 2, others had rigged big flags on their cars or trucks. There was so much Canadian pride and support for the athletes, especially our own.

This Friday (Mar. 12) riding the bus down Granville St., from 49th to 16th i counted 4 flags in front of houses or in windows. I didn't count cars with flags, but there were less than 10 in total and this is going both ways. Vancouver, what is going on here? Why isn't the city pumping this up the way they did the Games for able-bodied athletes? No offence to those athletes, but Para-Olympians (don't know if that is the correct name) have to train that much harder because of their physical challenges.They should be getting just as much if not more support. I turned on CTV to see what games were on. There weren't any. A little bit later, there was 2 hours of highlights scheduled. Nothing live. During the February Games, there was hardly anything else to be found on that station or any sports channel for that matter, so i heard. I only watched CTV.

I have always thought more of the Para-Olympians, because of what they have had to overcome to even get to the point of training for something like the Olympics. I watched most of the Paralympic Opening Ceremony. I was amazed by Lucas "Lazy Legs" Patuelli. I will give you a few links to watch a video he did, and a still shot from the Ceremony. They also had men in wheelchairs doing something that was much like skateboarding or even snowboarding, even flipping up into the air!!

There has been some debate in the Vancouver Sun (March 11, p. A13 & March 12, p. A15) between Dr. Robert Steadward, who is the Founder of the Internatinal Paralympic Committee (IPC) & Sir Phil Craven, current President of the IPC  as to whether the Winter Olympics and Paralympic Winter Games should be combined. Steadward believes that this would allow the Para-Olympians to share the same energy in the host city, host country and the rest of the world. He doesn't offer logistical solutions; but, is that his job? It all seems a bit idealistic, but i do like the idea of inclusion and having one big party, perhaps over 3 weeks as opposed to a 10 day break and then another 10 days of partying albeit on a smaller scale. Most downtown Vancouver venues are closing at 9pm. During the Olympics in Feb. the headline act didn't start till 9/9:30pm and that was on a Monday night!  I don't really see that there would be that much of a problem.

Craven says that combining the two different events would create inefficiences, too many athletes, coaches and officials. That the host city couldn't handle that many people at one time. Yes, a bigger athletes village would be needed, and there would be special transportation needs. But if we can do it separately, why not together? To be inclusive and not make a distinction between physical challenges of able-bodied athletes and those who are physically challenged in their everyday life takes away from the accomplishments of and the focus from the Para-Olympians. "we're able to have our own identity". He says, Jeff Lee wrote in the Sun (Mar. 12), that Craven wants the Paralympics to "stand on their own merit" Craven said "I believe the Paralympic Games have to attract the media in their own right". I see his point, but is this happening?

Vancouver is the first Olympic host city to host both the Olympic Winter Games and the Paralympic Winter Games. This will only happen for Winter Games. It's not really laid out why it only works for the Winter Games, but my guess is that there are only 5 events in the Winter Paralympic Games - Alpine Skiing, Nordic Skiing, Cross-Country Skiing, Wheelchair Curling and Sledge Hockey (and then in many different categories such as visually impaired, sitting, standing, amputee etc. events) - whereas there are 20 summer events. Combining the Summer Games would be more difficult logistically, likely be more costly for the host city because they would likely have to run for at least a month. I don't remember how much of a break they had in Beijing, but it didn't seem all that long. But the Para-Olympians need to be able to go in and train and get a feel for the venues where they will be racing. So, perhaps that is what the break is for.

But, how can the host city keep up the energy of the Olympic Games? Well, i have a whole slue of ideas. Maybe the organizers thought of these things and didn't think they were worthwhile? How about making sure there is at least local media attention on Para-Olympians visiting places like GF Strong, schools where there are physically challenged kids. Maybe this has been happening, but not on the level of all of the other Olympic hype, cuz i haven't heard a lot about it, and i watch the news a lot. The big focus here was on the Torch Relay. Yes, it's important to involve the country and province and small communities of individuals who won't get to go to the Games in Vancouver. But this is where the action is going to be ultimately, and Whistler too. This is where the big hype needs to be; because unfortunately international media doesn't care about Lytton, Hope or Maple Ridge. But we should make them care. There have been some articles on able-bodied reporters trying out Paralympic equipment, but i think if they involved more of the general public and featured that on the national news broadcasts, in different parts of the country and really played it up more than they do, there would be more of an interest, & a curiosity about how it all works. It's all about marketing and media attention and if they are going to "stand on their own merit", then they better do something about their marketing department to keep the buzz alive.

In the meantime, come on citizens of Vancouver. Show the Para-Olympians that you are just as proud of them as their counterparts who don't have to face the same kinds of (daily) challenges, let alone training for the Olympics, as the Para-Olympians do.


Video of Lucus "Lazy Legs" Patuelli : http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=e6Dolnuar-A

Still shot of Patuelli at the Winter Paralympic Opening Ceremony : http://news.globaltv.com/sports/story.html?id=2677691

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