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Disabled sub: What the Paralympics meant to me

A disabled journalist at a regional daily has written an honest and personal account of his experience of watching the Paralympic Games.

Stuart Taylor, left, a sub-editor at the South Wales Evening Post, was born with cerebral palsy and has written a piece for the paper about the Games and his own experience of trying new sports as a disabled person.

His article includes the times that he laughed when something went wrong for competitors at the Paralympics and the moments when he was screaming at the television as Swansea-based swimmer Ellie Simmonds won one of her gold medals.

Stuart said his piece would not be “another gushing article” full of patronising pity for disabled athletes but his account of how he had enjoyed watching sporting success.

He wrote: “When two workmates suggested I write an article about the London Paralympics 2012, my first reaction was ‘Why are they asking me?’

“Then the penny dropped, they wanted it from a disabled person’s viewpoint and given that I’m the only disabled bloke in the office, well, here it is.

“If you are expecting yet another gushing ‘they are all heroes’ article about the Paralympics then, sorry, I ain’t your man. There will be no mention of ‘brave’, ‘pity’ or ‘it’s the taking part that counts’ here.

“Having been born with cerebral palsy the last thing I would want as an athlete or a person is well meaning but highly patronising pity.

“Anyone who knows me, knows that I am the furthest thing from an athlete, but my condition has not stopped me from loving and trying out a variety of different sports, all with different degrees of success.

“I have turned my hand to archery, boxing, weightlifting, swimming and have completed an assault course. I must stress that I only ever went boxing training at Penyrheol Boxing Club and was never allowed to enter the ring. I wonder why?

“The sport I found best suited me was swimming, which is why I am in total and utter awe of Ellie Simmonds and what she has achieved at the last two Paralympics.”

Stuart added: “There have been other moments during the course of the Paralympics that have prompted tears to roll down my cheeks from laughter. Like the moment the bloke in the wheelchair fencing got his crown jewels stabbed; the moment a blind long jumper went off course and fell into a rake by the side of the track.

“Then there was that horrible moment when the guide runner pushed his blind athlete over close to the finish line leaving her in a heap on the track. Should we laugh at their moments of sporting pain? Come on, we are only human: it’s hard not to laugh, isn’t it?”

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  • September 12, 2012 at 11:50 am

    Refreshing to find that I wasn’t the only one to find some aspects of the Paralympics accidentally hilarious – but also incredibly uplifting and moving at other times. In our PC-world, however, it takes a disabled journalist to admit to the full spectrum of emotions.

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