Friday, October 19, 2012

Life After the Games

It has been 5 weeks since I landed at home from the most amazing experience of my life, the 2012 London Paralympic Games and what a whirl wind of a 5 weeks it has been!

I have finally taken the next few days off as I literally haven't stopped since arriving home.  Don't get me wrong, it has been absolutely amazing, but I have been pulled from pillar to post with people wanting me to speak at school's, lunches, dinners and functions that I never thought I would ever be at and I have thoroughly enjoyed it.  But I also been trying to train as well and the two don't really go hand in hand.  However as they say 'strike when the iron is hot because it won't last forever! 'I have actually been so busy that I have had to get myself a manager because I really have a hard time saying no!   I have been able to say no a few times just because it has been impossible to be in a number of different places at the same time.

I have been able to "go back to my roots" in sport, doing a number of swim sessions and actually getting back in my single scull and go out for a row.  That has been fantastic.  The thing I am finding the hardest to is accept all the accolades of what I have accomplished.  I know it is something that very few people ever achieve but I guess it has been a goal of mine for so long that I don't realise how significant it is for others.

It has been amazing to me how one gold medal brings so much happiness to people who are given the opportunity to hold or wear it.  That is the one thing I think has been really share it around.  Even more important to me is interacting with children at the local schools I have gone to. They are amazing with the intelligent questions they ask and the way their faces light up when they get to hold the medal is priceless.  They are our future and if I can make one child believe in themselves and chase their dream then I have really accomplished something! 

These London Paralympic Games have been a major turning point I believe for those in our community who may live with a disability.  The athletes who have competed have shown the world that they are 'able' and much more 'able' than most people.  I just really hope that we can carry this ideal through to everyday normal life especially in the workforce.  However time will tell if this can be accomplished.

I am however disappointed on one front and that is with the Victorian State Government and the City of Melbourne.  I have had so many people ask me why the Victorian Paralympic athletes haven't had a welcome home parade/gathering and I have found out through sources that the two bodies couldn't get together on 1. a date and 2. didn't want to close a road!  We were invited to one of the prelim AFL final games but even Channel 7 didn't televise it.  We have been invited to a 2 hour meet and greet with the politicians but to me the really important people who have supported us are missing out...the public.  The people I don't even know who sent me Telstra Hero messages, the kids I got letters from and other people who Tweeted or Facebooked me messages, what about letting them share in the excitement?  The Victorian Olympic athletes had a huge welcome home at Fed Square with what I understand were hundreds of people there to meet them. 

So has anything really changed?  If we can't even have parity in celebrating our success then how do we ever hope to have parity in everyday life or business.  I certainly don't know what the answer is, but I think we as a community should continue to try and chip away at those road blocks and let our elected politicians know that we won't stand for it.

As for me I will continue to "strike while the iron is hot", train for some local competition and aim to win that World Champion jersey next year!