While the world still basks in the warm afterglow of a wonderful London 2012 Olympic Games, Britain’s Channel 4 has come out and hit us between the eyes with a truly stunning advertisement for the Paralympics to be held in London from August 29.
The ad features members of the British Paralympic team and is built around the fact that these athletes are superhuman.
And wow, is it powerful!
It gets up close and personal with the athletes. It tackles their disabilities head on, from glimpses on the origins of each disability—birth defects, military service, car accidents—to confronting close ups of the scars and reality of their situations.
But this is not an effort to tug at the heartstrings.
This is a bold statement that these are elite athletes in their own right and are not to be respected because of what they have overcome, but rather, because they’re bloody good at what they do.
They have the same singular focus as any other athlete at the top of their game; they train just as hard and sacrifice just as much. The sports that they compete in are sometimes different, but they’re absolutely not inferior.
There is probably no sport at the Olympics that can compare or compete with the spectacle that is wheelchair (quad) rugby or "murderball" as it was originally known. It is fast, skilful, brutal and completely destroys any stereotyped images that you may have of people in wheelchairs.
The sad part is that the world won’t pay the same attention as it did to the Olympics. For some ridiculous reason, the big networks don’t cover the Paralympics, and therefore, it doesn’t rate well—which then justifies the decision of the networks not to cover it.
It’s the ultimate in self-fulfilling prophecies.
It seems condescending to describe these remarkable athletes as inspirational, but was it condescending to be inspired by British Olympic hero Mo Farah for his story of overcoming adversity?
Of course not.
These athletes are inspirational in the way that all elite athletes should inspire us, by showing what can be achieved through guts, determination and a singular focus on a goal.
Channel 4’s advertising team is absolutely right. These athletes are superhuman.