Paralympic Games Word on the Week 28th August 2021.
The Paralympic Games commenced this week following the Olympics as is their custom. Tokyo, the venue, is suffering from the effects of Covid so crowds are sparse. This has not affected the enthusiasm of the contestants!
The Games owe their origin to Sir Ludwig Guttmann, a Polish Israelite who came to Britain to escape the Nazis. He was a neurosurgeon who founded the National Spinal Injuries Centre at Stoke Mandeville Hospital in Aylesbury. His patients were British World War II veterans with spinal cord injuries.
As part of the rehabilitation Ludwig made the playing of sports compulsory. The competitions started in1948. The next took place in 1952, with athletes from the Netherlands joining the British competitors. The first Paralympic Games was in Rome, Italy, in 1960 featuring 400 athletes from 23 countries.
Since the early beginnings the games have settled down to the same four-year pattern of the Olympics with a winter event in the second year. The current Paralympic Games have produced a gold for Ireland in swimming. Ellen Keane broke her personal best in the 100m breaststroke by 2 seconds.
In winning the medal she had to swim with her goggles full of water from the initial dive into the pool. This disabled her vision so she could not see how her competitors were doing. She said it helped her not to worry about the opposition!
One of the more mature things to come out of the Games is the athletes lack of any embarrassment over their disabilities. The picture of Ellen holding high the stump of her left arm in victory says it all.
The ability to triumph over disability requires great determination to master their sport. This courage is exhibited by all the athletes. Their efforts are an inspiration to others to banish any inferiority feelings and not permit disability to hinder their social and sporting actions.
In the Bible Mephibosheth had been accidently dropped by his nurse in his youth and permanently damaged both feet. After his father Jonathan’s death King David brought him into his palace and gave him a place at the Kings table. David when he became King would have killed any successor to the throne but Mephibosheth, for Jonathan’s sake, was shown great grace in that he was elevated to the status of the Kings sons and dined at the King’s table for the rest of his life (2 Samuel Chapters 4,9,16 &19).
Mephibosheth had an inferiority complex because of his disabilities calling himself a ‘dead dog’. Some see a similarity with our standing before King Jesus where believers are gathered with all their baggage to be welcomed out of sheer grace to join Him (St Matthew Chapter 11 verses 28 to 30).