Buzz is building
The Paralympics are almost upon us as we anticipate 11 days of fantastic competition. Jo Healy will be there throughout and will be sharing her experiences with Sky Sports. Here's her opening column...
Last Updated: 29/08/12 5:38am
Jo Healy will be presenting and commentating on the sitting volleyball
The lull following the Olympics is almost over and the simmering of energy is heating up once more. The incredible buzz and adrenalin that enveloped London is building again, only this time there seems to be even more anticipation.
The history and tradition of the Olympics set a precedent that almost guaranteed the London Games would be spectacular. The greatest show on earth as the saying goes. But the Paralympics have always been in the shadows, hidden behind the main event. London 2012 is different. There is a far greater appreciation for the Paralympics and the athletes involved which has brought the Paralympics to the forefront of attention. And it hasn't even started yet.
The hashtag #superhumans has been used on Twitter to describe the remarkable athletes that will be lining up at the Paralympics. Each individual has a different story to tell. Some have been disabled from birth, others have survived life-threatening disease, hit and runs, industrial accidents, and the list goes on. These athletes have made the most out of their situations, and the Paralympics is their chance to show how exceptional they are.
The critics may have planted seeds of doubt in our minds leading up to the Olympics, highlighting potential transport issues, the lack of security personnel, and the ticket lottery, but none of that seemed to matter once the Games began. London proved the critics wrong. Admittedly, I had succumbed to the doom-mongers. But I am proud to say that I worked hard to help make the Games work along with the thousands of other volunteers. And what a show it was.
"People are now understanding the Paralympics better and appreciating it for the elite sport that it is. "
Jo Healy Quotes of the week
For the Paralympics, the media is reflecting quite the opposite effect. The fact that the Olympics were such a success is the most likely reason for this, but regardless of how it has come about, the buzz surrounding the Paralympics has been largely positive. The result has helped people to see the Paralympics differently, by breaking down barriers between non-disabled and disabled. People are now understanding the Paralympics better and appreciating it for the elite sport that it is.
When I think of a Paralympic 'pin up', Oscar Pistorius immediately comes to mind. The South African sprinter, also known as the Blade Runner, has undoubtedly had a huge impact in the clamour surrounding the Paralympics. Pistorius made history when he competed in the 400metre event at the Olympics here in London, the first double amputee to do so. The most compelling thing about Pistorius is his humility; he is down to earth and despite the media attention remains a passionate ambassador for the Paralympics.
Other athletes may not be in on billboards or in our living rooms on the television, but are incredible in their own right. Martine Wright is a member of the GB sitting volleyball team. She is also a survivor of the 7/7 bombings that killed 52 people in 2005. Wright had both of her legs amputated following the bombings, and while this changed the way she lives on a daily basis, she hasn't let it stop her from chasing her dreams - and achieving them.
Throughout the Paralympics I will be based at ExCel, presenting and commentating at the sitting volleyball. I had the same role for volleyball at the Olympics and it was one of the best experiences of my life. As a former GB volleyball player, seeing my heroes out on court, within touching distance, was incredible.
When I'm not at the sitting volleyball I will be out and about, and each day I will be blogging on a different sport and sharing my experiences of the events. It is going to be phenomenal beyond my expectations, and I cannot wait to soak up the atmosphere and support our tremendous athletes.