Paralympics Going Strong

Photo highlights from the 2014 Winter Paralympics

I’m not too sure if many people know that athletes from around the world are still competing in Sochi, Russia. The Paralympics, featuring international athletes with various disabilities, is going on right now and you know that I’m watching. The Paralympics always run parallel to the Summer and Winter Olympics and take place in the same host country. Ever since I heard commentators and saw commercials mentioning the Paralympics, I’ve been looking forward to catching them on TV. While they are almost exclusively limited to the NBCSN cable satellite channel, I’m glad that the Paralympic events are finally being shown on TV in the United States. I really hope that NBC gets it right next time so that more people can actually watch them.

Yesterday afternoon, I watched ice sled hockey. It was a great game! USA beat the Canadians in the semifinals and have a shot at the gold medal! If we win, it will more than make up for the Olympic men’s and women’s hockey teams losing to Canada. I usually don’t watch hockey but I make an exception for the Olympics of course. Fascinating sport, ice sled hockey. Seems more dangerous than regular hockey. Players, with amputations and other lower extremity disabilities, use sleds with skates and hockey sticks that also work as paddles to steer the sleds. I’m really impressed by the adaptive equipment used in the Paralympics. For skiing events like cross-country, biathlon, and slalom,  there are races tailored for athletes who sit on these awesome things called “sit-skis.”  And then for curling— yes, there is such a thing as wheelchair curling, don’t ask me why—pool-cue-like sticks are used to launch the stones onto the targets wherever they are, if they actually exist.

Anyway, I enjoy watching the Paralympic events and I am continually inspired by the strength and determination of those who participate in them. One of the members of the sled hockey team, Rico Roman, is especially inspiring to me. He is a war veteran who lost a leg because of an IED. When he was recovering, somebody asked him if he would like to play hockey. Roman was not a fan but eventually began playing anyway. I think it’s pretty awesome that he recovered and learned to make the best of his situation, picking up a new skill in the process. There is a commercial in which she is featured offering encouragement to athletes to train for the Paralympics: “Before you can run, you will learn how to walk, again,” and that even though it seems almost impossible, a “longshot,”  one can become the greatest in one’s sport through a perseverance that never stops going forward.  And ultimately, in the process, such an effort will bring about a realization that everything, breathing, still being alive, has been a longshot. I can certainly attest to that. 

The 2014 Paralympic Winter Games will conclude at the closing ceremonies on Sunday. But before that, the sled hockey final between USA and Russia will be on Saturday at noon. (You can see it live streaming here).

Update:

Congrats Team USA on the gold medal victory in sled hockey! Well played!

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