Less able - but so keen !
NOT TO BE UNDER-ESTIMATED !
The 26 people of Te Toamatoa Disabled Group who took part in their Independence Athletics Meeting this morning brought many qualities with them. Apart from the ability which a number showed, their enthusiasm and mutual support were, as always, features of the day. Whatever the disability, mental, paraplegic, blind, or in a chair, they ran and threw as if in the Olympics.
They joined in the laughter as the blind men could not follow ALL the voices and run in a straight line ! (We have to sort out a better system for them.) But these showed enormous faith and trust in launching themselves down the 50m. straight on the whistle start. A few zigs and zags later they crossed the line !
Similarly those in chairs faced the challenge of 50m. of rough track, hauling themselves along by the wheels, but NOT in special lightweight racing chairs ! The support for them from the others was noisy and personal !
Others to race would normally go carefully or with the aid of a stick. This morning they threw stick and caution to the winds and, on the edge of balance, just made it to the line before giving best to gravity !
ADJUSTING THE RULES !
To keep the whole competition in a compact area, we used part of the track just in front of the Stadium (stand). Then we used the half-way line of the Soccer pitch as a throwing line for both Shot and Discus. This again is exactly in front of the seating.
In the throws, a few of the athletes had a basic technique and so, e.g. in the Shot, we measured from where the feet stopped ! Also for the throws we did not use sector lines. This only proved a minor hazard ! (He should have been watching !)
Throwing from a non-specialist chair is hard because the movement of the body and arm is limited. They did their best !
OTHER SUPPORT !
Occasionally, those who would normally support themselves with a stick discarded the stick when they threw. The twisting effort would have deposited them on the ground but for some physical support being given. Only one proved to be too heavy !
NOT SOMETHING YOU WOULD PRACTICE !
Such activities are not something the able-bodied person would normally prepare for, and thus it is hard to imagine the trust and effort which must be involved. Nevertheless, as was stated at the start of this piece, we must never underestimate the less able.
Betero (who is one of the Group and also an athlete) recorded the results having the use of only his right hand. We also thank Eria (from KAA), Ms. Teewata (an amputee from the Group), Kokoria and a colleague from Kiribati Weightlifting, for their great assistance in helping the Meeting to go smoothly and yet offering great sensitivity.