What Real INCLUSIVENESS Looks Like

Being a sports lover from childhood, I cannot resist to watch and get involved in all the sports of the Commonwealth Games, being held now on Australia’s Gold Coast. I am so inspired by the heroic efforts that these athletes put into their chosen sport. I am also captivated by the personal stories which are shared about the athletes of courage, endurance, determination and resilience. Many of these people have trained for years and years for their moment of glory here in front of their own Australian supporters and family. I just watched our Australian women's Javelin thrower Katherine Mitchell win Gold and the commentator mentioned how he remembered competing with her in a youth championship back in 2004! She is 35 years old and after tonight competition she holds the title of the longest throw in Australian women's Javelin.

This was her first ever Commonwealth or Olympic medal! Now that's what I call true endurance! But the thing I am most impressed about the 2018 Commonwealth Games, is the new format of true inclusiveness. In the past we have had the Commonwealth Games and then following them we had the Para Commonwealth Games in the next few weeks. Honestly I am ashamed to say that I have never seen the Para Games before. Frankly in the past after a couple of weeks of watching as many events I could, I was simply watched out; and my life needed to get back to normal after the Commonwealth Games. But this year they have decided to have the Para Commonwealth events interspersed with the Commonwealth events.This make good economic sense as they only need to have people working for one games instead of two, as well as only requiring one opening and closing ceremony for everyone. But the real treat for first time viewers like myself, is to see the para Commonwealth athletes compete! These people are truly amazing! I was blown away when I saw the athletes thrown into the river out of their wheelchairs to compete in the Biathalon! These athletes were then were carried out of the water at the end of their swimming leg, and put into a racing wheelchair and they competed at speed on the land half of the event. One poor man who was in the lead when his wheelchair had a malfunction and he tipped over and out onto the road! He got himself back into the chair and then managed to take it much slower, as his steering and wheel were now broken, to cross the finish line (which was in site when he fell out), finishing in the bronze position! He was so gracious showing no resentment for the winner who past him after his incident, saying that when he first competed, that the man who won was the first person who spoke to him in his first ever competition, so he wished him well! Another lady took the corner too close in her racing wheelchair hitting the barricade and tipped over and couldn’t get upright again to finish the event, without the help of some officials. The courage of these athletes is so inspiring. Having been a sporting person in my younger years, it made me think how important it must be for people who have disabilities or who have suffered injuries to have something to train for, be inspired by and in the case of this Commonwealth Games, to compete side by side with able bodied athletes. These people could just as easily be any of us, with a different twist of fate, leaving us injured or born with an illness and deserve for their sport to be included along side any other athlete. I am so proud that Australia has been the first country to combine the two events into one inclusive Commonwealth Games! This is the true meaning of inclusiveness and well done Australia!

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