Sinai Says: Relating to Paralympians’ plight a lot more realistic

The popularity of the Paralympics seems to grow with every edition of the Games and that is set to continue in Rio starting from Wednesday.

September 7, 2016 01:26
2 minute read.
Moran Samuel  Rio 2016 Paralympics

Israeli row er Moran Samuel booked her place at the Rio 2016 Paralympics after advancing yesterday to the final of the arms-shoulders single scull 1,000- meter competition at the World Rowing Championships in Aiguebelette, France.. (photo credit: DETLEV SEYB)

There is no question that the Paralympics receive less coverage and recognition than the Olympics.

But why is that? Does the media and sporting establishment intentionally choose to downplay the achievements of the Paralympians compared to their Olympian counterparts? Or perhaps it is the public which is simply not as interested in their accomplishments? There are many theories on the subject, but the bottom line remains the same.

The popularity of the Paralympics seems to grow with every edition of the Games and that is set to continue in Rio starting from Wednesday.

But can, and will it, ever equal the Olympics? That seems very unlikely due to an underlying truth regarding human nature.

In many aspects, in particular the physical ones, Olympians are everything we aspire to be. They make the human body seem indestructible.

Their incredible feats, on the ground, in the air and under water, continuously keep us questioning the limits of the human race. They make us feel like there is nothing that is impossible.

On the other hand, Paralympians show us how frail we truly are. How our lives can change, or end, in a matter of moments.

Watching the Paralympics is a constant reminder of the limits of the human body. In a way it taps into our greatest fears. No wonder there are those who find it hard to watch.

But while the Olympics are in fact a fantasy world inhabited by super-humans with freak physiques, it is the Paralympics which epitomize real life.

Tragedy and hardship are part of our lives and we are all forced to deal with difficult circumstances time and again.

Most of us, of course, are fortunate enough not to encounter the magnitude of obstacles the Paralympians have to overcome on a daily basis.

Take Israeli rowing duo Reuven Magnagi and Julia Chernoy.

The 44-year-old Magnagi, a father of five, was paralyzed in his lower limbs after being injured during his reserve IDF service in Operation Defensive Shield in 2002.

The 36-year-old Chernoy has battled her disability her entire life, being born with cerebral palsy.

The two ended last year’s World Championships in eighth place and are eyeing an improvement in Rio.

While we may not need to face the challenges Magnagi and Chernoy stare into every waking second, their courage and determination – and that of every other Paralympian – is something we could all learn from.

Adversity is part of all of our lives to some extent. Conquering it and becoming a better person is our true test. The Paralympians not only overcome their obstacles, but they show us that you can crush them and create a new life from the deepest doldrums.

One may dream of being like an Olympian with all that it entails. But it is the Paralympians that can teach us so much more about our lives and truly making the most of them.

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