I have to admit that I have never before watched events under the Paralympics umbrella - until this year. I'm not even sure that I really knew that the event existed, it had no profile at all in Romania.The Paralympics in London has changed me for good.
But, first, let me tell you something.... I'm Romanian and disability in my country under our repressive regime was a curse, something to be ashamed off, to hide, to remove from the eyes of the people. Until Romania was accepted for EU membership, providing access for wheelchairs in public spaces was almost certainly at the bottom of the public expenditure TO DO list. Things have changed a bit since then but I sense only a tiny bit.
Living in England illustrates very publicly the notion of equal opportunities, the rights of people with disabilities, and their very visible presence in all aspects of life ... from journalism to politics, from sports to government.
We are all equal!
Watching the exceptional swimming races, the athletics, the passionate wheelchair volleyball, one feels like cheering without a break. At the beginning maybe the disability is what you see. After a few minutes the heat and passion of the competition takes over and one admires little other than the skills and determination on show!
Oscar Pistorious, better known as "The blade runner", "the fastest man on no legs" was probably the first man with a disability who stole the hearts of millions around the world.
And boy what an inspiring sporting motto he has ..... " you're not disabled by the disabilities you have, you are enabled by the abilities you have". I'm absolutely convinced that the environment that he grew up in was crucial to instilling such powerful beliefs!
I was over the moon when I read that a Romanian cyclist, Carol Eduard Novak won the first gold medal ever for the Romanian Paralympic delegation! How inspiring is this for disenfranchised people with disabilities in Romania.
What a great opportunity for our Romanian press to be in the frontline of the battle against ignorance and prejudice! What an opportunity to bring the message of "yes you can" if you are determined enough!