Who is a hero? It sure ain’t Enrique Iglesias, Christian Bale’s Batman, or some Z-lister in Hello! A real hero doesn’t need a funky costume (although I’d strongly encourage it), a hit single or a legion of admirers; a hero simply inspires.
Given recent events, it would be fair to say that The Paralympians are real heroes.
Channel 4 snatched the rights to the games, and started proceedings in style with an epic ad campaign: Meet the Superhumans. Public Enemy’s Harder Than You Think, featured in the campaign, soon become the sound of my summer. It’s impossible to choose one Superhuman as my hero, and here are a few of the fantastic group:
– Joe Townsend, also known as ‘that guy who zip lined into the Paralympics Opening Ceremony with a light torch’, chosen to represent future Paralympians – he’s on course to compete in the triathlon in Rio. Joe, a double amputee, lost both of his legs whilst on duty in Afghanistan and undertook a emergency operation only three days before his high wire stunt. His determination and ambition is simply, awesome. AND he also wore a funky costume.
– Will Bayley, table tennis extraordinaire, who apologised for coming second in the singles final. Watching table tennis players is hypnotic and strangely beautiful. Usian Bolt might breath personality, but Will’s humble attitude is far more special.
– Jonnie Peacock. He beat Oscar Pistorius. The End.
– Olympic discus champion Ilke Wyludda, who made the crossover between the Paralympics and Olympics way before Oscar Pistorius, who beautifully said: “I think I can be an inspiration for all people who have had some kind of stroke of fate and are looking for a path back into life… I think I have done that. I have shown that you can do it. Life goes on.”
– Ellie Simmonds. 4 Paralympic gold medals, 1 silver, 1 bronze, Young Sports personality of the Year 2008, current holder of five Paralympic swimming world records. 17 years old. She is truly remarkable. If we were wearing a hat, it would be tipped permanently in her direction.
– I don’t have a vendetta against Oscar, he’s a hero too. Despite losing his rag after losing his 200m title, he exudes cool.
The Paralympians are ordinary people, who swear and cry and cheat (if only on the Come Dine With Me Special), who achieve incredible feats. We can’t all take up elite sport, but we embrace the Paralympians’ spirit; and find their joy and sense of purpose in our lives. As ParalympicsGB entered the Olympic Stadium at the start of the games, David Bowie’s Heroes was played as the deafening crowd took to their feet and confetti rained down. It’s hard to imagine a more appropriate song.