Tag Archives: disability

Newcastle lout Barry Rogerson admits punching Bud the horse but claims the spooked animal "charged at him" during derby rampage

Newcastle lout who punched horse apologises and says he loves animals

By
John Drayton

PUBLISHED:

06:07 GMT, 17 April 2013

|

UPDATED:

07:00 GMT, 17 April 2013

The Newcastle lout who punched a police horse during ugly scenes after the Tyne-Wear derby insisted he was an animal lover who was acting self-defence.

Shamed Barry Rogerson said he was living in fear after his name and address were posted on the internet by animal rights activists.

Scroll down for video of the incident

Horse boxer: This Newcastle-supporting lout squares up to Bud

Horse boxer: This Newcastle-supporting lout squares up to Bud

I'm an animal lover': Barry Rogerson with his dog who says he panicked when the 'charged' towards him

I'm an animal lover': Barry Rogerson with his dog who says he panicked when the 'charged' towards him

Not horsing around: Bud, the horse that was attacked, pictured in the paddock on Monday

Not horsing around: Bud, the horse that was attacked, pictured in the paddock on Monday

Rogerson was pictured aiming a right
hook at the Shire-cross, named Bud, as Newcastle fans ran amok after
losing 3-0 at home to bitter rivals Sunderland on Sunday.

But the 45-year-old, who lives near Morpeth, Northumberland, claimed the footage, posted on YouTube, gave the wrong impression.

Rogerson said he had pulled a scarf over his face because a filling had fallen out of a front tooth.

And he only hit out in panic after the horse was spooked by a firecracker and charged at him.

Pitched battles: Police try to hold back Newcastle fans attempting to break through their lines

Pitched battles: Police try to hold back Newcastle fans attempting to break through their lines

Charge: Mounted officers try to hold back rioting fans

Charge: Mounted officers try to hold back rioting fans

Derby day violence in Newcastle

Rogerson,
living on disability benefits after quitting a factory job in 2005
because of a lung condition, told The Sun: 'It all happened so quickly. I
had just left the pub after the match and I walked straight into the
middle of it.

'The horse was spooked by a fire cracker and charged at me.

'At
first I tried to get him away from me with my left hand and then I
punched him with my right. It was sheer panic. I believe it made contact
with the horse.

'It was an instant reaction. The horse just came towards me and I reacted stupidly.

'I apologise for it — I did not actually go out to attack a horse. I love animals. I have got three dogs and a fishpond.

VIDEO: Newcastle lout punches horse after the game

Rioting in Newcastle after Geordies lose Tyne-Wear derby 3-0

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We must start taking women"s cricket seriously – Laura Williamson

After Twenty20 World Cup we must now start taking women's cricket seriously

|

UPDATED:

22:14 GMT, 7 October 2012

In Sri Lanka, which just hosted the ICC Twenty20 World Cup, it apparently costs 62 a day for a man to live but only 37 for a woman.

This isn’t anything to do with the prize money offered by the International Cricket Council, which is far more heavily weighted in favour of the men: 619,000 as opposed to just 37,000.

This is just as it should be, owing to the superior commercial pulling power of the men’s game. Female internationals only swapped long socks and culottes for trousers in 1997, after all. The game is still a work in progress.

Game changer: The decision to play matches on same day and at same venue as the men has helped greatly

Game changer: The decision to play matches on same day and at same venue as the men has helped greatly

More from Laura Williamson…

Laura Williamson: Don't use women's sport just to plug a gap, please Auntie…
23/09/12

Laura Williamson: Thanks to our Ellie, 'normal' has been redefined
16/09/12

Laura Williamson: It was just great, and thank you for putting sport first
09/09/12

Laura Williamson: I love the show but you've got one week to show this is a sport
02/09/12

Laura Williamson: Here's a challenge… forget the disability, focus on the sport
26/08/12

Laura Williamson: It's time to show you really care about women's football
19/08/12

Laura Williamson: Goodbye and good riddance to Plucky Britannia
12/08/12

Laura Williamson: Success of Britain's wonder women have made it the girlie Games
05/08/12

VIEW FULL ARCHIVE

No, this isn’t about prize money. This is the players’ daily living allowance we’re talking about here; something indelibly linked to the value of the players. How much they matter, basically.

The amount is more than enough for generous helpings of curry, coconut sambol and roti in a beautiful country like Sri Lanka, but the deficit implies female cricketers are not as important. They don’t matter.

Time and time again this is the message for females involved in sport, and this is why it hurts.

It rankles particularly when the achievements of England’s women far surpassed their male counterparts in this tournament.

While two men in suits and ties sat a table and talked about ‘reintegration’ last week, England’s Arran Brindle delivered a message to her class of primary school children back in Louth, Lincolnshire, via video link.

Charlotte Edwards’s side then got on with the business of preparing for their semi-final, in which they beat New Zealand by seven wickets.

Genuine success for England on the international stage is the catalyst needed to push women’s football to the next level in this country, yet England’s female cricketers already boast a quite overwhelming record of achievement.

They came up short in the final, losing to Australia by four runs, but it was only the team’s fourth loss in 29 Twenty20 matches they have played this year. This consolation won’t lessen the disappointment, of course, but the 20-over format has been an important vehicle for the women’s game.

Double headers with men’s fixtures have brought in new audiences and a higher level of interest — both at the ground and on television — even if that progress is still gradual.

So close: England's women were beaten finalists in Colombo

So close: England's women were beaten finalists in Colombo

‘We’re not completely dependent on the men’s game any more,’ said England bowler Holly Colvin, 23, speaking to promote Sky Sports’ coverage of the women’s semi-finals and final.

‘It’s getting a lot better: more sixes are being hit, TV coverage is better and the gap between international teams is getting closer. It’s the level of skill that’s getting better, too. We are just as skilful. We might not bowl 90 miles per hour but we are very happy with the standard we play.

‘Lots of people have commented on the improvements in fielding at this tournament. People just need to come down and watch and make up their mind.’

Colvin also insisted ‘everyone was happy’ with the daily allowance because it ‘is more than enough in a country like Sri Lanka and we are happy to get the amount we do’.

Very pragmatic, but it’s not about the pennies and pounds, it’s about what that amount signifies.

After all, England’s women cricketers have shown they are not second-class citizens.

Bowled over: The wonen's game has improved vastly in recent years

Bowled over: The women's game has improved vastly in recent years

… AND THIS IS WHAT I'VE BEEN DOING THIS WEEK

Watching Charlton against Watford on Tuesday night, when only two outfield players wore predominantly black boots. Just two.

Coloured boots were once seen as flashy; you had to be some player to wear them. Now they’re just the norm. I’m with Martin O’Neill on this one: back to black boots please, boys.

Supporting British swimmers Rebecca Adlington, Joanne Jackson and Ross Davenport on their 380-mile cycle ride across Zambia.

They’re raising vital funds for a charity called Sport in Action, which works to empower young people through sport, but camping and cycling for four days in 35-degree heat will certainly be a challenge. You can sponsor them at www.justgiving.com/zambiacycle.

On your bike: Sportsmail's Laura Williamson chats with Adlington

On your bike: Sportsmail's Laura Williamson chats with Adlington

Pleased that three gold medals in women’s boxing will be available at the 2014 Commonwealth Games in Glasgow after the success of the sport at London 2012.

I found it a challenging experience watching women fight for the first time at the Olympics, but Nicola Adams provided one of the stand-out moments of the Games for me. I’m glad it won’t be a one-off.

WHAT THEY SAID

Dame Tessa Jowell called the Government’s ‘dismantling’ of school sport ‘beyond belief’ this week — a reference to the 162m cut in funding for School Sport Partnerships.

Education Secretary Michael Gove’s response was to invite cricket, tennis, rugby and football administrators to discuss what to do next. That’s right: those well-known Olympic disciplines; the sports that enjoy the highest profiles and kids are most likely to find outside school, anyway.

Anyone would think Mr Gove didn’t have a clue about school sport.

Taking a stand: Jowell described the Government's decision as 'beyond belief'

Taking a stand: Jowell described the Government's decision as 'beyond belief'

PERFORMANCE OF THE WEEK

FA Women’s Super League champions Arsenal Ladies beat Barcelona, the Spanish champions, 4-0 on Thursday to reach the last 16 of the Champions League.

Perhaps even more remarkable was the fact they were already defending a 3-0 lead from the first (away) leg. Not too bad at all, really.

So proud to be a Brit! Sun sets on gold summer and sport is the winner

So proud to be a Brit! Sun sets on gold summer and sport is the winner

|

UPDATED:

21:42 GMT, 9 September 2012

Champion: Sarah Story

Champion: Sarah Story

As you wake up on Monday morning, wondering how life can ever be the same without the Olympic and Paralympic flames burning in a corner of east London, just watch out for shards on the floor.

The Opening Ceremony of the Paralympics promised the Games would smash the glass ceiling regarding people's perceptions of disability sport. Eleven days later, that ceiling lies in pieces.

This was the summer that Britain re-ignited its love affair with sport.

It has not mattered whether it was
Olympic or Paralympic sport as long as it was great sport; sport that
made you scream at your television screen or trek across the country to
sit in a stadium and feel part of it all.

The sold-out stadiums and the hordes of people queuing to watch a
morning session of Paralympic athletics all helped to make the London
Games the best yet, but it was the action going on inside these
amphitheatres that provided the real breakthrough.

'It was absolutely crazy,' said Jonnie Peacock, who heard 80,000 people
chanting his name before he won gold in the T44 100 metres.

'The crowd made it come alive. No athlete comes back thinking, “I didn't enjoy that, it was scary”.

'I was so proud to be British and so proud to have that crowd behind me.'

Just as the Olympic cynics were bowled over by wave after wave of British success a month ago, the achievements of home-grown athletes have played a vital part in the Paralympics' success.

It is why 50million was invested in our Paralympic team over the past four years.

It's all well and good putting on the best party the world has ever seen, but it's no good if someone else turns up and drinks the bar dry.

The atmosphere in the Aquatics Centre reached levels of hysteria we did not see at the Olympics as the hosts won seven gold medals, 16 silvers and 16 bronze.

Sensation: Gold medalist Jonnie Peacock

Sensation: Gold medalist Jonnie Peacock

Every member of the Para-equestrian team won a gold medal, although Lee Pearson could not match the three titles he won at three previous Games, and we had two triple gold medallists – Natasha Baker and Sophie Christiansen.

Athletics went from producing two golds in 2008 to 11 in 2012.

Britain won two medals in sailing for the first time since the sport was introduced to the Paralympics in 2000 and, although they did not match the feats of Beijing, the track cycling team still comfortably topped the medal table.

We didn't have it all our own way, however.

Paralympics GB surpassed their target of 103 medals by winning 120 but won fewer gold medals than four years ago in Beijing: 34 as opposed to 42.

It pushed Great Britain down to third in the medals table, meaning they missed their aim of finishing second because they were overtaken by Russia.

Staggering: Ellie Simmonds

Staggering: Ellie Simmonds

'We are third in the medal table, which does rankle just a tad,' said Penny Briscoe, Paralympics GB's deputy chef de mission.

'But we are ahead of all our closest competitors in terms of total medals won.

'More sports have delivered medals than ever before and we've taken medals in a quarter of all events held.'

Genuine stars such as David Weir and Sarah Storey have broken records for their staggering levels of success, winning four gold medals each, but, perhaps even better, the Games have uncovered a new breed of British talent.

Athletes like Peacock, 19; double Paralympic champion Hannah Cockroft, 20 – who dominated in the T34 100m and 200m – and 15-year-old Josef Craig, who broke the world record twice on his way to winning gold in the S7 400m freestyle.

Then there is Ellie Simmonds: still only 17 but already a grand dame of British sport with four golds, a silver and bronze from two Paralympic Games.

These exciting youngsters have excelled performing in front of packed arenas. They will want even more now.

Star: David Weir

Star: David Weir

Whether the public's love affair with Paralympic sport will endure is a question we can answer only in five or 10 years' time, but perhaps there is even better to come from British athletes in Rio de Janeiro in 2016.

Peter Eriksson, UK Athletics' Paralympics head coach, said: 'I always wanted to stay until 2016 because the first thing I said when I got here, in an interview which I got in trouble for, was the best performance from this team will come then.

'I believe that still about 2016.

'Why move down from the top of the Premier League to the third division It's not fun.'

The Closing Ceremony on Sunday night was a 'festival of flame' and London certainly has had a slightly giddy festival feel over the past six weeks.

That flame has done strange things to people, prompting grown men to dress up in red, white and blue and many of us to consider sport, and particularly Paralympic sport, in a very different way.

'I've been banging on about it for years,' said Weir.

'And it's about time that we get some recognition because we are super-humans and we are phenomenal athletes.

'I'm just honoured to see that Paralympic sport has got recognition like it should do.'

Consider that ceiling smashed.

Brazilian wonderkid Gabriel Muniz invited to train with Barcelona

Brave Brazilian wonderkid who was born without feet is invited to train with Barcelona

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UPDATED:

16:32 GMT, 28 August 2012

When your dream is to become a footballer and play for Barcelona, nothing should get in your way – even if you have no feet.

An 11-year-old wonderkid from Brazil has been invited to meet his idol Lionel Messi and train with the Spanish club after his talents were spotted by scouts.

Schoolboy Gabriel Muniz, who was born without feet, will fly from his home in Brazil to take part in the Spanish club's summer training camp after impressing at their training academy in Saquarema, Rio de Janeiro.

Scroll down to watch Gabriel's skills

Gabriel Muniz, 11, who was born without feet, will realise a dream next month when he flies to Spain to take part in Barcelona's summer training camp

Bright-eyed ambition: Gabriel Muniz, 11, who was born without feet, will realise a dream next month when he flies to Spain to take part in Barcelona's summer training camp

Despite being born with malformation of both feet, fourth grader Muiz is one of the best footballers at his school and aspires to play like his idol Lionel Messi

Eyes on the ball: Despite being born with malformation of both feet, fourth grader Muiz is one of the best footballers at his school and aspires to play like his idol Lionel Messi

Despite his disability, Muniz is one of the best players at the school and captain of his gym class.

He can run, dribble, pass and strike the ball as well as any of his able-bodied teammates.

His best friend Lucas Santos spoke about his abilities on a video for The Sun: 'He is skillful, he goes after it [the ball], he is fearless and he knows how to organise plays. He also makes good passes.'

Mum Sandra was thrilled that her son will achieve his ambitions – especially since the family were too poor to pay for treatment after he was born.

She said: 'He started walking before he was one. We would go after him, expecting him to keep falling, but he never fell.'

Like many boys his age, Gabriel puts in countless hours of practice to hone his football skills

Practice makes perfect: Like many boys his age, Gabriel puts in countless hours of practice to hone his football skills

Brazilian wonderkid: Muniz has been invited to fly from his native country to meet his hero Messi at Barcelona's summer training camp

Brazilian wonderkid: Muniz has been invited to fly from his native country to meet his hero Messi at Barcelona's summer training camp

Gabriel's gym teacher Jose Lopes added: 'He is challenging the social norms. When he arrived there [at the Barcelona academy], no one believed in him.

'But he proved to everyone there he can go head to head with any other boy. So much so that he was invited to go to Spain next month, in September, to showcase his talent.'

Gabriel and his family hail from Campos dos Goytacazes, a city located 170 miles north-east of Rio.

Muniz shares a bed in a tiny house with his elder brother Mateus, and they get up at 6.30 every morning to bike to school. Like every child his age, he hates homework and household chores, instead spending all his spare time on the football pitch.

Rags to riches: Muniz shares a bedroom with his elder brother Mateus. As his sibling studies, Muniz attaches the prosthetic limb he wears to get around

Rags to riches: Muniz shares a bedroom with his elder brother Mateus. As his sibling studies, Muniz attaches the prosthetic limb he wears to get around

Soccer and study: The 11-year-old walks down one of the corridors at his school in the city of Campos dos Goytacazes

Soccer and study: The 11-year-old walks down one of the corridors at his school in the city of Campos dos Goytacazes

Top of the class: Gabriel chats with classmates. He is one of the best footballers at his school, despite his disability

Top of the class: Gabriel chats with classmates. He is one of the best footballers at his school, despite his disability

Gabriel wears a prosthetic ankle and foot to help him get around in rainy weather.

He knows that his disability means he'll never be able to play for a professional football team and so Gabriel is hoping that football will one day become a Paralympic sport.

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Paralympics 2012: Lexicon Decoder – what is it?

So, what is Lexicon Decoder, or LEXI for short and how is it helping the Paralympics

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UPDATED:

07:50 GMT, 27 August 2012

LEXI is a graphical way of looking at the classification at the Paralympics, aiming to simplify the system that gives the Games the structure for fair competition.

LEXI, short for Lexicon Decoder, uses colour-coded graphics to show the type and level of impairment within sporting classes, green for no impairment up to red for a severe impairment.

Created for Channel 4 by Paralympic gold medal-winning athlete and TV presenter, Giles Long, it will be used in coverage of eight sports at these Games as an aid to viewers.

Lexicon Decoder

With almost 500 hours of coverage on TV and online, the level of interest in this Paralympic Games is likely to eclipse any other, presenting a real opportunity to market disability sport to the masses.

To help viewers understand the action, a complicated classification system, a maze of letters and numbers, needs to be explained to an unfamiliar audience.

Why is a swimmer with dwarfism racing against someone with no arms Is it fair that a man with no legs sails against a man who is blind

These are the kind of issues the coverage seeks to deal with, assisted by Giles Long, a triple Paralympic gold medal-winning swimmer who got so fed up with explaining the classification system to his friends that he devised a system of his own which is being used in Channel 4’s coverage.

‘My first Paralympics in Atlanta in 1996 wasn’t on TV, so there was nothing out there not to understand,’ said Long. ‘In Sydney, there was a lot more but even my friends who knew my disability didn’t understand the system, which told me that 99 per cent of people watching would not be able to fathom what was going on.’

Going for gold: Stef Reid is targeting top prize in 100m, 200m and the long jump

Going for gold: Stef Reid is targeting top prize in 100m, 200m and the long jump

After Channel 4 won the rights to host broadcast the Paralympics — bidding a reported 9m to the BBC’s 5m — it approached Long to devise an easily digestible classification system: ‘Every time I tried to explain, it took so many words,’ said Long. ‘However, my dad is a graphic designer and I come from a family of painters, so I took as my mantra “A picture speaks a thousand words”.’

The graphic-based LEXI system simplifies the existing classification system by using stickman-style diagrams and traffic light colours to reflect levels of disability, with green indicating no impairment through to red signifying severe impairment.

‘It overrides the “expert” system because viewers are having it explained to them in a different way,’ said Long. ‘Swimming is the only sport where you get seemingly very different competitors up against each other. Some will be in wheelchairs, some on crutches and some might seem to have nothing wrong with them at all.

‘The crucial point is that it’s not about how you walk down the street, it’s about how you’re affected in a sporting arena.

‘If people can understand the classification system, they are on their way to enjoying disability sport. It is one of the major obstacles, people need to understand that it is a fair playing field.’

Classification is one of the most contentious issues facing Paralympic sport, with many athletes reporting other competitors sniping at them when they believe they have sneaked into a field of more severely disabled people than themselves.

‘With any system, there is room for improvement,’ said Long. ‘Within the bandings some people are at the top and others at the bottom.

‘But I watched Jessica Ennis win gold and the girls who came second and third were about a foot taller than her. She beat them because she played to her strengths better than they did theirs.’

London 2012 Paralympics: Forget the disability, focus on the sport – Laura Williamson

Here's a challenge: forget the disability, focus on the sport

|

UPDATED:

06:25 GMT, 27 August 2012

'Thanks for the warm-up' say the Channel 4 adverts declaring the Paralympic Games are coming to town.

'Forget everything you thought you
knew about strength,' says another trailer. 'Forget everything you
thought you knew about humans. Meet the superhumans.'

The adverts are deliberately cheeky;
deliberately in-your-face and challenging. Aggressive, even. One advert
features a bomb explosion, car crash and a baby scan interspersed with
images of elite athletes such as swimmer Eleanor Simmonds and Jonnie
Peacock.

Flying the flag: The French Paralympic team arrive at St Pancras

Flying the flag: The French Paralympic team arrive at St Pancras

The Paralympic Games isn't going to be about cosy chats on a sofa and a patronising 'well done' for reaching a final, that's for sure, but it should still be about sport.

You can add 'Forget everything you thought you knew about athletes' to that list, too: for the next fortnight, our idea of what sportsmen and women look like is going to be turned on its head.

I was at St Pancras station when the French Paralympic team arrived on the Eurostar on Saturday. There was a big fanfare announcement and then a procession of people in blue tracksuits appeared. People stared. Some of them were in wheelchairs, but it wasn't that. It was that they looked, as one chap next to me put it, 'well, just a bit old'.

Olympic teams are all shapes and sizes, encompassing show-jumpers, judokas and marathon runners all under one national flag but the physical differences are more exaggerated with Paralympians.

The British team will still be in Stella McCartney-designed adidas kit, but some look very different to the image conjured up by the word 'athlete'.

Elite level: Jonnie Peacock

Elite level: Jonnie Peacock

We can get so wrapped up in what the competitors look like and their journeys to the start line that we forget about the actual sporting event. It's still about getting from A to B faster than anyone else, or scoring more points than the other team. It's just that your opponent might not have an arm, or a leg, or needs a wheelchair or prosthetic limb to try to beat you.

'Sometimes people go, “Oh, they're inspirational”,' said Olympian and Paralympian Oscar Pistorius, 'because the perception they had was so warped – “That person doesn't have any arms and legs. They shouldn't be able to do this”.

'Well, that person's not focusing on what they don't have. They're focusing on what they do have.That's why you get so many more Paralympic athletes who are far more able than able-bodied people who are doing things with their bodies. It's just a mindset. Yes, it's inspirational, but it's hardcore sport. I've seen some phenomenal Paralympic moments that are, just from a sporting point of view, amazing.'

Do you, then, try to forget about the disability and just focus on the ability This is impossible. There is a human need to explain how these athletes can do what they do; how they overcome physical and mental barriers to challenge for gold. It would be disrespectful to simply ignore it, and it should be celebrated.

But the ingredient that makes the Olympics so sensational – this fleeting opportunity, once every four years, to be the best you can possibly be – still applies to the Paralympics.

It's still sport, just very different to what we're used to. Forget everything you thought you knew – and enjoy the challenge.

My way: Roy Hodgson

My way: Roy Hodgson

… and this is what I have been doing this week

Admiring Roy Hodgson's determination to do things his way. 'Should England youth teams all use the same formation' 'Not really . . . systems are overexaggerated anyway.' Will you pick John Terry in the next squad' 'Yes.' There's no saying anything was lost in translation now.

Digesting Lance Armstrong's decision to say 'enough is enough' and not contest drugs charges. For 'great' we must now read 'cheat'. How can that be 'enough'

Visiting Hampton Court Palace for the unveiling of the British flag-bearer at the Paralympics opening ceremony, Peter Norfolk OBE. The Quad tennis double gold medallist, 51, is nicknamed 'the Quadfather'. 'It probably should be the Grumpy Father,' he said, 'but I'm overjoyed.'

What they said

Yang Jian, a commentator for China's state broadcaster CC TV, was almost in tears when Liu Xiang hit the first barrier in his 110 metres hurdles heat at London 2012. 'This is the worst outcome I have thought of,' he said. 'If an athlete does not have a good leg, it's like a soldier without a gun.' All very poetic. The problem, according to Chinese newspaper the Oriental Guardian, is that it was scripted. The broadcaster knew Liu was carrying an injury and had prepared four scripts – including a 'crying' version. They say sport is theatre but duping your audience is not part of the act.

Performance of the week

It 's tough to upstage Usain Bolt, but Yohan Blake managed it in Lausanne on Thursday, recording the joint third fastest 100 metres time of 9.69sec. Bolt was watching as he prepared to run the 200m: he may keep an even closer eye on his training partner now.

Here"s a challenge: forget the disability, focus on the sport

Here's a challenge: forget the disability, focus on the sport

|

UPDATED:

00:00 GMT, 27 August 2012

'Thanks for the warm-up' say the Channel 4 adverts declaring the Paralympic Games are coming to town.

'Forget everything you thought you
knew about strength,' says another trailer. 'Forget everything you
thought you knew about humans. Meet the superhumans.'

The adverts are deliberately cheeky;
deliberately in-your-face and challenging. Aggressive, even. One advert
features a bomb explosion, car crash and a baby scan interspersed with
images of elite athletes such as swimmer Eleanor Simmonds and Jonnie
Peacock.

Flying the flag: The French Paralympic team arrive at St Pancras

Flying the flag: The French Paralympic team arrive at St Pancras

The Paralympic Games isn't going to be about cosy chats on a sofa and a patronising 'well done' for reaching a final, that's for sure, but it should still be about sport.

You can add 'Forget everything you thought you knew about athletes' to that list, too: for the next fortnight, our idea of what sportsmen and women look like is going to be turned on its head.

I was at St Pancras station when the French Paralympic team arrived on the Eurostar on Saturday. There was a big fanfare announcement and then a procession of people in blue tracksuits appeared. People stared. Some of them were in wheelchairs, but it wasn't that. It was that they looked, as one chap next to me put it, 'well, just a bit old'.

Olympic teams are all shapes and sizes, encompassing show-jumpers, judokas and marathon runners all under one national flag but the physical differences are more exaggerated with Paralympians.

The British team will still be in Stella McCartney-designed adidas kit, but some look very different to the image conjured up by the word 'athlete'.

Elite level: Jonnie Peacock

Elite level: Jonnie Peacock

We can get so wrapped up in what the competitors look like and their journeys to the start line that we forget about the actual sporting event. It's still about getting from A to B faster than anyone else, or scoring more points than the other team. It's just that your opponent might not have an arm, or a leg, or needs a wheelchair or prosthetic limb to try to beat you.

'Sometimes people go, “Oh, they're inspirational”,' said Olympian and Paralympian Oscar Pistorius, 'because the perception they had was so warped – “That person doesn't have any arms and legs. They shouldn't be able to do this”.

'Well, that person's not focusing on what they don't have. They're focusing on what they do have.That's why you get so many more Paralympic athletes who are far more able than able-bodied people who are doing things with their bodies. It's just a mindset. Yes, it's inspirational, but it's hardcore sport. I've seen some phenomenal Paralympic moments that are, just from a sporting point of view, amazing.'

Do you, then, try to forget about the disability and just focus on the ability This is impossible. There is a human need to explain how these athletes can do what they do; how they overcome physical and mental barriers to challenge for gold. It would be disrespectful to simply ignore it, and it should be celebrated.

But the ingredient that makes the Olympics so sensational – this fleeting opportunity, once every four years, to be the best you can possibly be – still applies to the Paralympics.

It's still sport, just very different to what we're used to. Forget everything you thought you knew – and enjoy the challenge.

My way: Roy Hodgson

My way: Roy Hodgson

… and this is what I have been doing this week

Admiring Roy Hodgson's determination to do things his way. 'Should England youth teams all use the same formation' 'Not really . . . systems are overexaggerated anyway.' Will you pick John Terry in the next squad' 'Yes.' There's no saying anything was lost in translation now.

Digesting Lance Armstrong's decision to say 'enough is enough' and not contest drugs charges. For 'great' we must now read 'cheat'. How can that be 'enough'

Visiting Hampton Court Palace for the unveiling of the British flag-bearer at the Paralympics opening ceremony, Peter Norfolk OBE. The Quad tennis double gold medallist, 51, is nicknamed 'the Quadfather'. 'It probably should be the Grumpy Father,' he said, 'but I'm overjoyed.'

What they said

Yang Jian, a commentator for China's state broadcaster CC TV, was almost in tears when Liu Xiang hit the first barrier in his 110 metres hurdles heat at London 2012. 'This is the worst outcome I have thought of,' he said. 'If an athlete does not have a good leg, it's like a soldier without a gun.' All very poetic. The problem, according to Chinese newspaper the Oriental Guardian, is that it was scripted. The broadcaster knew Liu was carrying an injury and had prepared four scripts – including a 'crying' version. They say sport is theatre but duping your audience is not part of the act.

Performance of the week

It 's tough to upstage Usain Bolt, but Yohan Blake managed it in Lausanne on Thursday, recording the joint third fastest 100 metres time of 9.69sec. Bolt was watching as he prepared to run the 200m: he may keep an even closer eye on his training partner now.

Laureus Awards: Novak Djokovic sportsman of the year

World No 1 Djokovic honoured at Laureus Awards as London celebrates sporting year

Wimbledon champion Novak Djokovic added to his ever-growing trophy cabinet this evening by winning the Laureus world sportsman of the year award at a glittering ceremony in London.

Djokovic enjoyed a stellar 2011, clinching the Australian Open, Wimbledon and US Open grand slam titles.

The Serbian world No 1 collected his latest gong at a ceremony in London which was attended by luminaries from the sporting world such as Manchester United manager Sir Alex Ferguson, former Ajax and Barcelona star Johan Cruyff, and five-time Olympic champion Sir Steve Redgrave.

Another one for the collection: Novak Djokovic poses with his Laureus Sportsman of the Year Award trophy

Another one for the collection: Novak Djokovic poses with his Laureus Sportsman of the Year Award trophy

Centre of attention: Prime Minister David Cameron poses with sporting celebrities before the awards

Centre of attention: Prime Minister David Cameron poses with sporting celebrities before the awards

Northern Irish golfer Darren Clarke was awarded the comeback of the year award for winning the Open Championship at the age of 42, and compatriot Rory McIlroy won the breakthrough of the year gong after lifting the US Open.

Manchester United legend Sir Bobby Charlton was given the lifetime achievement award and 'Blade Runner' athlete Oscar Pistorius won the Laureus disability award after becoming the first amputee to win a track medal in a non-disabled World Championships – a silver in the 4x400metre relay.

Champions League winners Barcelona were named Laureus team of the year while Kenyan long-distance runner Vivian Cheruiyot took home the sportswoman of the year award.

World of golf: Darren Clarke (above) and Rory McIlroy (below) were also handed gongs at the awards ceremony

World of golf: Darren Clarke (above) and Rory McIlroy (below) were also handed gongs at the awards ceremony

Rory McIlroy posing with his Laureus World Breakthrough of the Year award

Djokovic said: 'I have to say it's an extreme pleasure being part of such a great event.

'It's a spectacular feeling. It's difficult to describe how good it feels in words for me, for my family.

Academy Ambassador Ruud Gullit and wife Estelle Cruyff

Dee Pinsent and Sir Matthew Pinsent

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'What stands out most for me in these two days I spent in London is getting to know the legends of sport and practically absorbing every word they said.'

Djokovic won the award a week after retaining his Australian Open crown in a record-breaking final that lasted almost six hours.

Sharing a joke: Sir Alex Ferguson accepts the Lifetime Achievement Award on behalf of Bobby Charlton

Sharing a joke: Sir Alex Ferguson accepts the Lifetime Achievement Award on behalf of Bobby Charlton

Hosts: Model Bar Refaeli and former boxer Lennox Lewis on stage at the 2012 Laureus World Sports Awards

Hosts: Model Bar Refaeli and former boxer Lennox Lewis on stage at the 2012 Laureus World Sports Awards

'It's been a week and I think physically I'm recovering,' he said. 'At this age, there are no excuses. I have to recover.'

He added of the final: 'My impressions are the same. It's been the most exciting match of my life. We went the distance of six hours, made history.'

Blade runner: Steve Rider hands the Sportsperson of the Year with a Disability trophy to Oscar Pistorius

Blade runner: Steve Rider hands the Sportsperson of the Year with a Disability trophy to Oscar Pistorius

Asked if he could win the Grand Slam this season, he added: 'I think everything is possible. I have to stay optimistic. I have to believe in what I do and believe in my abilities and that I can win on all surfaces.

'Obviously, Roland Garros is the one to win this year. All the grand slams and Olympic Games, they are my priorities this year.'

Paralypic sport: A day with Britain"s para-triathletes

Brave and inspirational… do me a favour! Changing attitudes in the newest Paralympic sport

Having completed his first triathlon in July, Sportsmail's Matt Fortune was invited to Loughborough University, the base for some of the country's best athletes, to experience the sport in a very different way. He returned with a renewed sense of drive and an attitude changed.

‘Brave and inspirational Don’t you patronise us.’

It was a reaction I had not expected when I asked the team of para-triathletes I had joined for the day how they felt about the way they are perceived.

However after experiencing the sport like never before – as a visually impaired runner and as a cyclist without the use of my legs – I do, to a certain extent, maintain my position.

Attitude changing: Sportsmail's Matt Fortune spent the day with some of Britain's leading para-triathletes

Attitude changing: Sportsmail's Matt Fortune spent the day with some of Britain's leading para-triathletes

Seeing all too often people wallow in their own minor misfortune, these people are an inspiration, though I see the point they were are at such pains to prove. Their battle for 'acceptance' has been tough going. As one put it: ‘I only ever feel disabled during sport.’

Claire Cunningham, born without her left forearm, was most struck by my controversial assessment. She experienced Paralympic success before her 16th birthday and now works as a chartered accountant at Deloitte.

‘My parents would never allow my disability to act as a barrier, and never was it an excuse,’ she says. ‘Until I was in my teens I would compete against able-bodied athletes and even when I finished second in those races, I would be angry, disappointed.

'I only ever feel disabled when I participate in sport because I fit into a category there'

‘Even at a young age, being told I would be able to succeed at the highest level in disabled sport and travel the world doing it, my parents and I would dismiss the idea.

‘And now for me, I only ever feel disabled when I participate in sport because I fit into a category there.’

Jane Egan, who has a rare neurological disorder affecting her central and peripheral nervous systems, is matter of fact about her success: ‘Everybody has things in their life they have to overcome – physical, psychological, day-to-day work things – and those people do things in their life that inspire people without even realising it.

‘There are lots of people who get really uptight about the words brave and inspirational, and believe in some way it is demeaning what we are doing, but I think that if other people get something from what we are doing, take that into motivating someone to try triathlon, or to try sport, then that is fantastic.

Disconcerting: Matt was put through his paces wearing blackout glasses

Disconcerting: Matt was put through his paces wearing blackout glasses

'Everybody is inspired in life but what they see others doing, and it isn’t really any different. We don’t want it elevated above anything else.’

On the topic of bravery, the athletes opinions are even more forthright. They have tired of attitudes which are to them condescending and belittling.

Claire adds: ‘The brave thing is what gets me most. We’re not brave, there is no danger of death in what we do,’ while Sarah Butler, a runner-up in last year’s world championship grand final in Beijing, says: ‘When people say “isn’t it scary”, my response is, “I’ve never not been visually impaired so I couldn’t tell you really”. I think that is where the brave thing is seen as really bizarre.'

The distances covered correlate to that of the sprint event for able-bodied athletes – 750m of swimming, followed by 20km of cycling and 5km of running.

Alongside the three competitors is John Kearns, who acts as a help for the athletes during competition.

He says: ‘It isn’t about bravery or anything like that, it is just a case of appreciating the effort.’

As a sport in Britain, triathlon is doing more than most to break down barriers with both the para and the able-bodied elite level athletes operating under the same supervision – the British Triathlon Federation.

‘That it all comes under the same federation means I don’t feel mollycoddled or treated specially,’ Claire says.

I ask, timidly, if the success of the likes of Jonathan and Alistair Brownlee – Britain and indeed the world’s finest in elite able-bodied men's triathlon – filters through the system. Are they, I suggest, an inspiration.

Leading the way: British brothers Alistair and Jonathan Brownlee

Leading the way: British brothers Alistair and Jonathan Brownlee

Jane explains: ‘I don’t think it
works like that, but I do think the integration of the para-side with
mainstream triathlon means that the whole thing feels like one sport. It
also means that from a funding perspective that the better the able
bodied athletes do, the better we all do.

‘It
means more funding, more resources, sponsors will be keener to get
involved and that has a knock on effect. I may swim, bike and run but
there is not much I can get from the guys, so it is a different sport
technically, but we feel like a part of the big sports family.’

'Getting para-tri into the 2016 Games is as important as triathlon getting into the Sydney Olympics [in 2000]'

Certainly
the success of the Brownlees and in the women’s discipline – Chrissie
Wellington is a four-time champion – the development is mirrored in the
para event. Participation is on the up and last year paratri was granted
a spot at 2016 the Olympics in Rio de Janiero.

Claire says: ‘The standard and quality of depth has increased a lot, and it is growing year on year. But this is a huge turning point having it in the Paralympics. It means we should get more funding to become better athletes, it will hopefully attract more people into it, and profile-wise it will help increase it.

‘It is a massive step forward. If we hadn’t got in, this progress we’ve all made would have stagnated. I think it is as important as triathlon getting into the Sydney Olympics [in 2000].

‘The team is now building towards to it and I think the key is getting young athletes into the sport. We need to develop younger people as triathletes rather than take them on from the individual sports. That happened in the able-bodied arena in 2000, and now here we are going through that.

And Sara, adds: 'People are now making a long-term commitment to it and once 2012 has gone I think you will see a big turning point because at the moment all the focus is on this summer.’

Jane agrees. She says: ‘From a motivational perspective, whether you think you have a chance of making it or not, it still gives you that dream, something to aim for.’

Trust: Giving over the ability to brake and steer was a curious experience

Trust: Giving over the ability to brake and steer was a curious experience

The understanding is that, as well as with the help of the BTF and its sponsors, British attitudes ensure the best for these athletes.

Claire says: ‘Paratri has only been going for a few years, and as a serious event for only a couple. It is very young.

‘But Britain has always been a leader in Paralympic sport, and with para triathlon we are leaders again. We have got guys who are trained to go water handling, trained to do transition and other countries just don't have that. A lot of that is the excellent funding initiatives, including from GE.’

Reflections on my day

In transition: Much faith is placed in those that are help between stages

In transition: Much faith is placed in those that are help between stages

Of all the experiences, most disconcerting was the run, for which I donned a pair of blackout glasses. As anyone who’s struggled to find the light for the bathroom in the dead of night will know, it’s disorientating.

Despite knowing I was running in a straight line on a perfectly smooth athletics track surface, the feeling of an impending collision was enough for my running technique to disintegrate.

Even the presence of a guide, strapped to me as they were HOW! and talking throughout the experience, failed to give me confidence. Imagine how one would cope on the open road against competitors.

In many ways it is about sacrificing control, a challenge many who have inherited disabilities will struggle to adapt to when their most basic human instincts have been taken away from them for whatever reason.

The same feeling I'd had on the run hits home on the tandem bike where the visually impaired athlete rides at the rear, without any access to breaks, gears or indeed the right to steer. Overcoming the instinct to direct the bike was a challenge throughout and brought home the complexities of what has for me become instinct.

When roles were reversed, the superior power in the legs of the other rider accentuated quite how many more barriers need breaking down and solutions need finding for these individuals to take part. No longer relying on your own will to succeed, you as well place faith in your guide and in the fact that you have chosen a suitable match.

Further understanding of the role others play came in transition, the section of the race between disciplines – from swim to bike, then from bike to run. The professionals will tell you it is here that your race can be won or lost.

Readjusting: The day was as educational as it was enjoyable

Readjusting: The day was as educational as it was enjoyable

For Jane, who has won back-to-back female triathlete of the year awards since starting out in 2009, making her way from the water to chair requires the help of one person. For more powerful male competitors, two men are enlisted to lift, strap in and get going. It’s an effort as efficient as a F1 pit stop and one where the utmost urgency is imperative. There is a lot of trust involved, but it comes with time.

Sara says: ‘I almost have to switch off in a race in terms of trust. I just have to say “what will be will be”. If I was worried I wouldn’t race to my full potential, I’d be holding back a little bit, a bit tentative, and you can't be like that. Luckily now I am starting to enjoy relationships where I can build it so much that I don’t worry.’

Sara's comfort and overall feeling having been involved for a comparatively short period of time is testament to the work done to aid the development of the sport. Long may it continue. And let it, not them, remain an inspiration.

GE is a proud partner of the London 2012 Olympic and Paralympic Games, and the Elite Partner of the GE GB Triathlon & Paratriathlon teams – providing support and expertise for the athletes as they prepare and compete at the highest levels. See more facebook.com/GEtriathlon