I just caught up with the rio paralympic opening ceremony, having begun watching it last night before deciding to go to bed. As with their olympic opening ceremony, it struck me as remarkable. It both brought back memories of four years ago (especially when they struck up the paralympic anthem, a piece of music I’ll now forever link with the paraorchestra, charles hazlewood and puff the magic dragon) and seemed totally new and completely brazillian. While again there was no stand-out moment for me to fixate upon, there were one or two touches which raised my eyebrow.
The first were the boot-things they had those kids walking in. I’m not sure I liked the look of them at all. They basically strapped a child with fairly severe CP to their parent, allowing them to walk, kick balls etc. They didn’t look at all comfortable for either the child or the parent; in fact they looked very medical model, and rather ridiculous. Thinking back, I don’t think I’d have liked being strapped to mum or dad as a six year old.
The second moment, though, was rather more touching. As the paralympic flame was being carried to it’s destination, one of the disabled torchbearers fell. She looked unsteady on her feet, and used a stick. Two or three guys rushed to help her, and she was soon back up. As someone not unaccustomed to falling down, it struck me as a particularly endearing moment: The way she was straight back up walking on had me applauding at my computer screen. What a perfect metaphor for disability; what a beautiful accident.
I really hope rio has a great paralympics. The word is it should be equal to, or even better than, London. For my part, I won’t be able to help thinking back to 2012 that was such an awesome time for me. Yet I hope to see the Brazillians put their own mark on these games. As I said yesterday, it’s their turn to take centre stage. If, as I once wrote here, 2012 was about ‘us’, 2016 must be about not ‘them’ but their version of us.