[LETTERS to the editor]Paralympics: Nothing is impossible

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[LETTERS to the editor]Paralympics: Nothing is impossible

For two weeks in August, people gathered in front of their TVs to cheer the athletes from their home countries. When the festival came to an end, and the flame on the torch was put out, people took the ceremony as the end of the event, and went back to their daily lives. However, the festival did not end. On September 6 the Paralympic Games began, and the second phase of the Olympics just ended this week.

People pay close attention to the Olympic Games and its results, but not many seemed to care about the Paralympics. Most of the games were not broadcast on TV and many people didn’t even know when the opening and closing ceremonies took place. But more than 4,000 athletes with disabilities from nearly 150 countries came to compete for 472 gold medals in 20 sports categories, which means this event was not insignificant.

When people hear the names Michael Phelps, Usain Bolt and Yelena Isinbayeva, they know that these athletes are admired internationally for showing unprecedented athletic ability, setting new world records in their fields in the Olympics. But most are unfamiliar with names such as Oscar Leonard Carl Pistorius and Natalie Du Toit, who exemplified inspiring accomplishments in this year’s Paralympics.

Prejudice against the physically challenged is the reason that not many people paid much attention to the Paralympic Games.

Most people view the Paralympics as a cheerless event, for they think limbless people competing against one another is a sad thing. Thus, instead of enjoying the games like in the regular Olympics, people think they have to try to view the Paralympics with sympathy and compassion.

Amazing athletes setting world records during the Olympics were sights to behold; few other humans on Earth are capable of their feats. In this sense, the world records of the Olympics mean the very best and people watch the Olympic Games to see this.

On the other hand, watching physically challenged people In wheelchairs heading for the goal line or swimming with artificial limbs, we witness athletes truly portray the indomitable human spirit, challenging and transcending their limitations and records set by others. Hence, the Paralympic records represent one’s very best - the best work done by people overcoming their own circumstances.

Since capacity, social and economic backgrounds and many other qualities of people differ greatly, not everyone can be “the very best.”

People will always be awestruck by the extraordinary abilities of great athletes in the Olympic Games - but one can say that it is not in everyone’s real life. Also, life cannot always be running forward with no obstacles standing in one’s way.

Rather, it is constant confrontation of hardships and finding ways to overcome them.

If people watch the Paralympic Games with unbiased views, they can be greatly inspired by them instead of feeling sorrow and sympathy for disabled people.

We all know that records set in wheelchairs can’t beat the phenomenal accomplishment of Usain Bolt, but it is not the record that matters.

No matter what harsh conditions stand in their way, Paralympic athletes have all done their own very best to achieve something that they yearn for.

People should pay more attention to the Paralympic Games; it makes us see that the impossible is, after all, nothing.

Hong Seung-Hwan, a junior,

Anyang Foreign Language High School

*e-mail to eopinion@joongang.co.kr or via fax to 82-2-751-9219
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