Thursday, April 28, 2016

The opportunity of impossibility

Biathlon and Cross Country skiing saw me adapt, grow, and succeed in its field of competition.  To this day, both sports, especially biathlon, holds a special place in my mind and heart.

However, both sports, also left me motivationally depleted.  While competition and training was challenging, fun, and full of new experiences, the inner workings, rules, and overall culture of the sport was ultimately my downfall.

Imagine an athlete that has decided to make a sport his craft..  He sleeps, lives, and studies that sport, he rejects his possessions and moves to a new place with nothing but a dream of becoming the best..  His family thinks he's crazy, the people around him thinks he's weird, he sleeps on an air mattress, his bank low in funds, and with just enough food to make the same dinner everyday, he keeps going..

The only one that supported him.. His grandfather dies..  In a whirlwind of emotions he has the perfect race..  He is in.

He competes and gives his heart out at the biggest stage, this is the beginning of something great.. 

He keeps going and going..  The mental and physical stress catches up to him and he gets sick.. The saddest part of the story and unbeknownst to him comes with a click.. He asks to be believed in once again..  Not good enough..

In a world where belief is measured by how much money you are worth, stories like his are easily dismissed.

Without the opportunity to be great it is impossible to prove your worth..  

And so, He keeps going..  Finding opportunities..

Enter Triathlon..  And I keep going..

(Listening to "Cut the cord" by Shinedown)

Monday, April 4, 2016

The disability of success

In the world of Paralympic sports, not only do you have to adapt to learn, train, and compete in sports with a disability but you also have to find the support necessary to enable you to do those things in the first place.

For some of us it's easier with prior military service because there are always organizations willing to help, for others a wealthy family can enhance your chances, and for the really unlucky ones you are to fend on your own, but regardless we all find a way to compete.

Speaking of competition, in my own account, competition is what drives me.  When I am competing my disability is non existent, I want to beat other competitors, and I honestly it feels good to pass other able and disabled athletes because it's hard wired into my being to beat others at whatever.

So we find the resources to train and compete, and then we become race junkies going wherever we can to satisfy our addiction to being better than we are expected to be, and then something funny happens, we become good enough to taste and dream about Paralympic competition.

The pitch is simple.. Acquire all the gear, train like mad men with a plan, compete in the races that count and.. Sell your disability to the highest bidder by masking it as inspiration, and if you do that then you can win a medal.. Ironically, at least for me, that's when my disability started.

You see, for years we try to pretend we are not disabled by doing pretty amazing things, but the moment we become Paralympic athletes we also have to prove that our disability is also profitable.  In a system where cash is king, inspiration is easy to sell..  So even if we think we are not disabled, the system that is suppose to abdicate us from the throne of disability is.