Herald comment: Paralympians show that there doesn’t have to be barriers to our dreams

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WHO could not have marvelled at the magnificent silver medal won by Eastbourne-born Bethany Woodward at the Paralympics on Wednesday evening?

The cerebral palsy sufferer added to a bronze medal won in the relay with second in the T37 category 200m final.

For all the Paralympians, there is a genuine humbleness about their achievements. In post-race interviews there is true joy in their achievement as well as respect for their fellow competitors. You don’t get a load of banal cliches from these new heroes, just a thoughtful insight into their world.

For Bethany, her cerebral palsy is an impairment to the brain which affects movement, posture and co-ordination.

Afterwards, she spoke movingly of the challenge she faces every day to run.

Bethany described it like trying to break through a brick wall; a battle between your body and brain to reach the finish.

“The CP [cerebral palsy] side is lazy and, it’s a constant battle to push through that and say actually, ‘No, you are going to do something great here.’ I was going ‘Come on! Push it’ and my body listened.”

It is wonderful that these Paralympians can bask in the spotlight for their achievements and take the glory which is rightfully theirs.

Yet once the crowds have returned home, after the floodlights have been switched off at the Olympic Stadium, and while those able-bodied spectators will be able to move on with their lives without pain, the Paralympians will have to contend with a life made even more difficult by their disability.

As the Paralympians get older and sport is no long the bedrock of their lives, so the day-to-day challenges of their disabilities become even greater.

In a world where we are too easily critical of others, you couldn’t fail but admire these brave sportsmen and women who every day challenge themselves, their minds and their bodies.

For everyone, able-bodied or disabled, surely that is inspirational. For those with disability, surely these Paralympics can only serve to be motivational to achieve their own goals.

That in life there can be no barriers if we wish to fulfil our dreams.