The Olympics and Paralympics should be a time of celebration as athletes from around the world prepare to fulfil their dreams and represent their countries at one of the greatest sporting events.
With the two events so obviously linked it is sad that in Australia the two are kept separate. The Western Australian Olympians being given a massive send off prior to departing for London with many in attendance and everyone recognising their achievements.
Sadly the 17 Western Australian Paralympians were not invited to share this event. In fact this week their farewell was held at the State Basketball Centre and was an extremely low key affair organised between the Australian Paralympic Committee and the Department of Sport and Recreation. By all accounts invitations were sent out last Thursday for an event held on Tuesday.
The families of these Athletes were not invited and neither were our state’s proud past Paralympians. Only two of the eleven athletes were interviewed by the MC, an employee of the DSR, who also chose this event to interview Karen Tighe from the ABC. It is great that the ABC are once again covering the Paralympic Games, and Ms Tighe is a good supporter of Athletes with a disability, but this event was supposed to be about the Athletes, and no one else.
It is a very sad state of affairs that this celebration of achievement was tucked away in a venue with very few people knowing that it was even taking place. This is not the way to recognise these people’s dedication hard work and endeavour, or that of their families who have often also made tremendous sacrifices. Shame on all involved in organising this event.
Not The Footy Show would like to congratulate all 17 athletes, many of whom have been featured on the show, all the very best for London 2012, and we are proud to have you representing us.
(Ashley Morrison from Not The Footy Show and the author of this post is a Board Member of Wheelchair Sports WA)