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Posts Tagged ‘sports

A Time Machine With Hand Controls, Episode III – The Birth of the Paralympics

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by Treadmarkz

Wheelchair sports. Adaptive sports. Whatever you call it, participating in it has, in part, enriched the lives of millions of disabled people. And just like so many other 20th century advances made by and for the disabled, it came as a result of thousands and thousands of veterans coming home disabled.

-Hopefully we will be able to make lemonade out of the lemon-tree of a war in which we are currently involved-

All political statements aside, on July 28, 1948 the Stoke Mandeville Games were played, organized by Sir Ludwig Guttman, a neurologist at the Stoke Mandeville Hospital in England as a rehabilitative exercise for WWII veterans injured in combat. This was not recreation. This was a hospital, and this was part of the patient’s rehab program. This was quite an advancement from WWI when a person who lost a leg in combat was pretty much lucky to survive.

The Games consisted of one event, archery (although wheelchair polo, basketball and table tennis were also encouraged by Guttman at the hospital), and were played by just two teams, eight players per side.

The event spread throughout Britain four the next few years, and then in 1952, the Dutch got involved, and by ’53, teams from Canada to Israel took part, bringing with them a glimmer of what would become a truly international event in years to come.

Guttman became the president of the International Sports Organization for the Disabled. He died in 1980.

The Stoke Mandeville Games obviously branched out to include a much wider spectrum of participants, becoming the Paralympics in 1960. Though the Paralympics now coincides with the Olympics every four years, and has spawned the Winter Paralympics in recent years, the Stoke Mandeville Games are still played annually.

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A Time Machine With Hand Controls, Preview of Episode III

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by Treadmarkz

Be sure to stay tuned in to Treadmarkz.wordpress.com as we lighten the mood a bit for the next installment of “A Time Machine with Hand Controls.” Join us as the four-wheeled rambler leaps across the space-time continuum to 1948. Here, we will drop in on the pioneering days of wheelchair athletics, and the precursor to the Paralympics.

One Example of When It’s Okay To Help a Disabled Person

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by Treadmarkz

Here is a perfect example of when it is “acceptable” to assist a “disabled” person, albeit in this example, a temporarily disabled person.

Sara Tucholsky, a Western Oregon University softball player, hit a game-winning home run for her team, but injured her knee after passing first base. If you haven’t heard the story already, click here, because what happened next was not only a gesture of consummate sportsmanship, but like I said, an example of a situation where a disabled person would probably happily accept help.

NOTE: This is not to say that offering to pick up a disabled person and carry them will always be greeted with gratitude. But you get the idea, based on the circumstances described here. When it’s just the right, humane and neighborly thing to do to offer help is when a disabled person such as myself appreciates it the most. Not when a person jumps to the conclusion that I must need it because I am disabled.

Wheelchairs as Props in Physical Comedy

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by Treadmarkz,

You don’t often see wheelchairs being used as props in physical comedy. Having said that, this video is probably one of the best examples I have seen in a while. It’s from the World Wrestling Entertainment’s Smackdown! The woman in this clip, Vickie Guerrero is not really disabled. It’s all part of the storyline. I don’t know, maybe it’s just me, but I think wrestling is funny to begin with.
Other than this, the best example I can think of is in Naked Gun when O.J. Simpson’s character rolls down the steps at Anaheim Stadium and gets catapulted over the gate.

The Thrill of Adaptive Skiing

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by TreadmarkzAdaptive Skiing

One of the links on my blogroll is to Heavenly Ski Resort, a place in Lake Tahoe on the border of Nevada and California where I went adaptive skiing a couple of years ago with a good friend of mine.

Heavenly Ski Resort provides all equipment necessary, and they give you a thorough test to be sure your strength and reflexes are suffiecient. Safety first! That and it is a bit straining on the upper body and forearms at first though not as bad as I expected. And the strain wears off quick once you get up there and start enjoying yourself.

A lot of ski resorts offer adaptive skiing, so you don’t have to go to Lake Tahoe for it, but I do strongly recommend Heavenly; not only because it is the only place I have ever skied, but if you are going to go skiing, I’d be unlikely to believe there is a better place than Tahoe. Not only can you go skiing, but the place is crawling with casinos if you are into that, and any category of entertainment is usually available within rolling distance. Plus, coming from brown and green hilly Minnesota, when I was up on the mountain at Lake Tahoe, the crisp snow-capped greys of the rocky mountain peaks contrasted by the calm aqua blue lake were the perfect setting to try something bold, new and exhilerating. I said it after my first lesson at Heavenly, and I will say it now: speeding down the mountain alone (once the woman giving me the lesson let go) was absolutely terrifying, but I loved it!
You’re probably thinking “How can you say that skiing was terrifying while recommending a ski resort?” Well to be honest with you, skiing may not be for everyone. But deep down, I am a thrill-seeker, and that is why I loved it. Just knowing that I was at the mercy of the mountain yet I was in complete control, all I had to do was shift my skis in the right direction and I’d be fine. So if you want to get away from the everyday 9-5 and bring out that inner-thrill seeker, you can go sky-diving or you can start off by doing some adaptive skiing. I guarentee that you will be reminded, if you had forgotten (everyone does, sometimes) that you are very much ALIVE!

A Brief Meditation on Wheelchair Sports

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by Treadmarkz

Carrying on in the same vein as my last posting, a friend of mine (also a paraplegic) and I had a discussion a while back about wheelchair sports. It was his feeling that wheelchair athletes tend to be so focused on wheelchair sports that it gives the impression that people in wheelchairs were one-dimentional. I am sure this could be especially troubling for those in wheelchairs who are more intellectual types than sporty. But the way I see it, whether you are in a wheelchair or not, if you love something, if you are honestly and truly passionate about something, then it is natural to show it. Especially if you plan to make it a big part of your life and succeed in it. It is likely the same with guys like Terrell Owens, a football player whom I consider to be passionate about his NFL career. Though I’m sure he’s fairly intelligent, I would guess he’d rather talk about how to get to the Super Bowl than how to reform Social Security. It doesn’t have to mean there is nothing else going on in the athlete’s head. People in wheelchairs took the court in the first place because they wanted the world to know that they could do it just as well as anyone. If we no longer had these passionate men and women, there would be nobody to mentor the younger people for whom sports is also a passion, and we might end up back where we started with the general assumption being that a person in a wheelchair can only take a desk job.