On 6th May 1954 Sir Roger Bannister ran a mile in 3 minutes 59.4 seconds at the Ilfey Road Track in Oxford, proving that a mile could be run in less than 4 minutes. Although Sir Roger himself debunks the commonly held notion that previous to this momentous event a sub-4 minute mile was thought impossible, it certainly set the scene for many an athlete to do the same. Suddenly, sub-4 minute miles where being set all over the place! As therapists (and particularly those specializing in sports psychology) we call the “The Contribution of Athletes”. When one athlete proves it can be done, many will follow.
Now I could have written about my thoughts on this particular brand of inspiration during the Olympic Games themselves. All those athletes, striving to be the best. Better themselves as well as those around them. Herculean efforts, both in preparation as well as on the day in their chosen sports. We can certainly derive much inspiration from these people. Indeed, one of the central themes of the games was to “inspire a generation”. Something I feel was admirably achieved.
But for even stronger inspiration, one should look toward the paralympians. These people have overcome whatever disability they may have to achieve their place at the Paralymic Games. Some have overcome personal tragedy in which their previously able bodied existence has suddenly become one in which they have to strive to overcome a new disability. When life has dealt these people such a bad hand through accident, terrorist atrocity or some other equally distasteful event, they have refused to lay down and feel sorry for themselves, but get up and strive to be the best they can be!
Watching the opening ceremony last night, the coverage was littered by many stories of this nature and I have no doubt we will learn more about these remarkable individuals over the coming 11 days of the games. I couldn’t help but feel moved last night and one off my favorite quotes came from an athlete that simply didn’t view himself as disabled, but enabled in a different way. A prime example of focusing on the positive and not letting the negative get a toe-hold in your life.
We would all do well to take inspiration from these wonderful human beings. Represent it onto our own daily lives. Be the best that WE can be.