Viewers push Paralympics to the side after the Olympics

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Wikimedia Commons

Paralympic athletes race against one another in the women’s T54 1500-meter race. Athletes are eligible in T54 races if they have spinal cord injuries and use only their upper-body muscles in the race.

by Neil Bai and Nina Gee

Disabled athletes from all over the world gathered to compete in their respective sports from Sept. 7 to Sept. 18 in the Rio Paralympics.

While the Summer Olympics in August still remain fresh in many students’ minds, its counterpart, the Paralympics, has not received as much attention. The Summer Olympics drew in an average of 25.4 million viewers while the Paralympics peaked at 2 million viewers during the  opening ceremony.

“The people that participate are very hardworking,” Patrick Zhong (11), who watched the Paralympics, said. “They spend a lot time preparing just like other Olympic athletes, and they deserve to be rewarded for that.”

Paralympians include athletes with disabilities ranging from amputated limbs and visual impairments to missing fingers and ligament injuries that would prevent them from competing in the regular Olympics. This year, 4,359 athletes from 163 different countries competed, and more than 2 million Paralympics tickets were sold, the second highest amount of ticket sales in Paralympics history.

A total of 210 new world records were set, including Algerian runner Abdellatif Baka’s three-minute, 48.29-second time in the men’s visually impaired 1,500-meter run. Three other visually impaired athletes running the men’s 1,500-meter also surpassed the previous world record.

“The most memorable moment was watching them finish the races,” Gina Partridge (9) said. “Especially for swimming there were some people who didn’t have arms but they still managed to finish with incredible times.”

Some of the students who did watch the games or read articles about it believed that there was a lot to learn from the Paralympic athletes.

“I am inspired that, despite their physical abilities, [Paralympic athletes] are still trying to compete,” Albert Pun (12) said. “I think most people only want to see the best when they are watching the Olympics, and I think the regular Olympics is more exciting for them.”

The next Paralympics Games will take place in Korea in 2018 and will be based on winter sports.

This piece was originally published in the pages of The Winged Post on October 11, 2016.