Monday, September 08, 2008

Back to basics

This morning on CBC radio, I caught a piece by Christopher Grosskurth on the news as I was following the tail-lights ahead of me on the highway to work. It focused on a couple of athletes - one Canadian, and one American - who share a couple of things in common: they're both competing at the Paralympics in Beijing right now, and they're both former soldiers who were injured or wounded in the line of duty.

While I'm always glad to see our media paying attention to soldiers, especially folks like these, the report irked me. Grosskurth pushed some stat about how in London something like 10%-20% of the American Paralympic team will be ex-military, and how this is breaking new ground in the Paralympics.

Hogwash. The Paralympics were created specifically to help veterans after WWII:

It is amazing to think that the Paralympic Games had their humble beginnings less than fifty years ago, in Stoke Mandeville Hospital in Aylesbury, England. The earliest beginnings of the creation of athletic Games for people with disabilities can be traced back to World War II and the efforts of one man, a doctor from England named Ludwig Guttmann. Known as the “Father of Sport for People with Disabilities”, Dr. Guttmann was a strong advocate of using sports therapy to enhance the quality of life for people who were injured or wounded during World War II.

This isn't a new trend, it's a return to the movement's roots.

For those interested in the connection between the CF and the Paralympic movement, the Soldier On program is an excellent place to start (follow the links).


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