Cecilia Maritza Tenorio Pereyra (Perú) on How Olympic Values Inspire Self-Realization and Achievement

July 4, 2012

From August 29 to September 9, the fourteenth Paralympic Games will take place in London. This is an official competition for disabled sportsmen from all over the world and, different from other years, will be held in the birthplace of the Olympic Games for people with disabilities: the United Kingdom. Historical sources indicate that it was the English neurosurgeon Ludwing Guttman in 1948 who proposed a sports competition for disabled World War Two veterans. It is from this point forward that the transformation of how we see and understand disability began, not by making differences and hoping socially accepted stereotypes disappear, but through accepting their conditions in order to develop other kind of abilities.
Sports have contributed to forming values of self-realization in people with disabilities. Values such as perseverance, resolution, self-discipline, and tenacity have not only allowed these people to overcome their personal barriers, but are also an important reference point for the Olympic Games of the 21st century. From my view, the Olympic Games’ values should express the set of principles that guide people’s behavior to their self-realization, conquering their fears and facing the challenges of life. It is therefore essential to have aspirations and motivations that drive us to establish goals. In the case of people with disabilities, we can see that the Paralympic Games represent an opportunity for people to overcome their own barriers and reach their dreams.

These Olympic values also contribute to breaking social prejudices toward disabilities in sports. Even in our time there is still a high degree of exclusion of people with disabilities in various sports. We often think that having a physical, mental, or sensorial handicap is reason enough to exclude. However, the Paralympic Games are an opportunity to prove otherwise. People with disabilities know how to withstand the social prejudice because they possess the value of overcoming, which characterizes them and contributes to the development of a more open and inclusive society.

The Olympic values of the twenty-first century must express the set of attitudes and competences that help us in our personal growth. On this occasion, people with disabilities have taught us that only through overcoming our own personal and social barriers are we able to reach our dreams, goals, and aspirations long yearned for. Thus, the Olympics Games must create conditions of respect, equality, and mutual acceptance of differences, moving toward the development and enforcement of the Olympics' twenty-first century values.
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