OPINION: Paralympians are strong athletes, receive weak recognition

Julia Desautels, Sports Editor

Athletes with disabilities have taken part in an international competition called the Paralympics since 1989. Like the 2016 Olympics, the Paralympics were hosted in Rio, Brazil.

The 2016 Paralympics took place from September 7 through September 18. Nearly 4,350 athletes from over 160 countries traveled to Brazil to compete in 22 different sports.

Similar to the Olympics, events are held for both men and women which include swimming, wheelchair basketball, table tennis, powerlifting, goal ball, football, shooting, Judo, cycling, and more. There were 528 medal events, or competitions, that took place this year.

Paralympians are no different from Olympians. Preparing for the Paralympics takes years of dedication and training, just as the Olympics do. Some athletes even took part in the Olympics before an injury.

Many believe that because the Paralympians have disabilities, they are not as strong as Olympians. This is far from reality. In fact, Paralympians put just as much training time into their sport as Olympians do, and just as much (if not more) effort.

For example, a runner with prosthetic legs will imitate the training of that of an Olympic runner. It can often be more difficult for the Paralympian, because many who have previously competed in the Olympics are not yet used to their handicap.

If their training and effort is equal, why aren’t their benefits? The United States Olympic Committee provides more pay, health care, allowance for training, and medal bonuses to Olympians. All of these are offered to Paralympians, but in significantly smaller percentages. To me, this sounds like discrimination.

Over the past few years, views have surged for the Paralympics; why has this discrimination gone unchanged?

Men and women participating in the paralympics overcame indescribable struggles.

I believe that they deserve equal benefits to Olympians not only because they train as hard, but because they have been faced with great challenges, and they have overcome them.

Paralympians have been able to compete in Paralympic events despite the fear of injury or failure that may hold them back. Sure they are physically strong, but mentally, they are mighty.