Life’s lessons from Rio Olympic and Paralympic games – Part 4


“I praise you, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made. Wonderful are your works; my soul knows it very well” – Psalm 139:14
“No one can make you feel inferior without your consent” – Eleanor Roosevelt

In life, being unconscious of your ability is the ultimate disability. Disability is not inability. Zig Ziglar once said, “You may succeed if nobody believes in you, but you will never succeed if you don’t believe in yourself.” Your value doesn’t decrease based on someone’s inability to see your worth and the greatest disability in life is a bad attitude.

Life is full of amazing stories of people rising above their disability and making unmatchable impact in their generations. The worst thing about disability is that people see it before they see you! Charles Dickens was lame, Helen Keller was the first deaf-blind person to earn a bachelor of Arts degree, Plato was a hunchback, Sir Walter Scott was paralyzed, Albert Einstein could not speak until he was four years of age, Franklin Roosevelt was crippled by polio and became the first president to enter into the white-house on a wheel chair!

No matter what you are going through in life, you can rise above your limitations. So many people have risen beyond their seemingly unpalatable situations to become people of substance and great impact. God might not will every situation but He does have a will in all situations; God has given you this life because you have what it takes to live it. Our biggest problem in life is self-awareness, the ability to fully realise who we are and what we are truly capable of doing.
“A child is only as disabled as their environment and the beliefs of the people around them” – Bala Pillai

Robert M. Hensel said, “My disability has opened my eyes to see my true abilities.” Disability is really in the minds of people, who choose to look only at superficial abilities, and choose to be blind to special capabilities of differently abled people. As the 32nd president of the United States of America, Franklin D. Roosevelt served longer than any other president. His unprecedented election to four terms in office will probably never be repeated due to the 22nd Amendment to the Constitution of the United States shortly after his death. Although he was crippled by polio at the age of 39, Roosevelt made impact on a wheelchair. You don’t need situations around you to improve to make impact; you can make impact where you are.

Roosevelt was elected twice as a senator (New York). He was elected the Governor of New York in 1928 (the Governor on a wheelchair). Many New Yorkers were unaware that their Governor used a wheelchair. His wife once said something to him that always kept him going: “No one can make you inferior except you allow it. You are only crippled in your body but not crippled in your spirit.” Roosevelt ruled America for 12 years through the Great Depression and the World War II. His social programs during the Great Depression redefined the role of government in Americans’ lives. His role during World War II established the United States’ leadership on the world stage. His 12 years in the White House set a precedent for the expansion of presidential power and redefined liberalism for generations to come.
“Merely refusing to give up is a VICTORY in itself” – Joyce Meyer

It was a laudable outing for the Nigerian athletes at the just concluded Paralympic games in Rio as they proved to the world that there is no permanent record. In fact they wowed and showed spectators that records exist to be broken. The Paralympic games has heralded a new era, gone are those days when Paralympians were seen as mere invalids. President Muhammadu Buhari reached out and applauded the Paralympics team for their tenacity, focus, resiliency and rugged determination that is unprecedented in the history of Nigeria’s participation in world tournaments.

The Nigerian contingent finished 17th on the medals table with eight golds, two silvers and two bronze medals, which made them the top-performing African team at the 2016 games. They humbled Olympic favourites and set new world records on their road to thrilling and stunning victories. It was very obvious at Rio that the Nigerian Paralympians were much more abled than their Olympic counterparts that won only a bronze medal in Rio!

Roland Ezuruike and Paul Kehinde each won a gold medal in the Powerlifting Men’s-54kg and Men’s-65kg respectively, while their female counterparts, Lucy Ejike, Ndidi Nwosu, Bose Omolayo and Josephine Orji each won a gold medal in the power-lifting women’s-61kg, Women’s-73kg, Women’s -79kg and Women’s +86kg respectively. Also in the women’s category, Latifat Tijani and Esther Onyema won silver medals in the Powerlifting Women’s -45kg and Powerlifting Women’s -55kg respectively . Nnamdi Innocent won a bronze medal in the men’s -72kg class in Powerlifting. Flora Ugwunwa set a new world record in the women’s javelin – F54 event at the Rio Paralympics to give Nigeria its seventh gold. Eucharia Iyiazi won Nigeria 12th medal at the Paralympics Athletics Women’s Discus Throw – F56/57. One of the major highlights and glamour of the Paralympic Games was Lauritta Onye as she totally dominated the Athletics Women’s Shot Put – F40 winning a gold medal.
“Disability is a matter of perception. If you can do just one thing well, you’re needed by someone.”- Martina Navratilova

I believe strongly that the National Assembly should endeavour to evolve laws that will ensure that Nigerians with disabilities are given equal rights and opportunities. We can borrow a leaf from the Americans with Disabilities Act that has seriously bridged the yawning gap between abled and disabled citizens. We must never forget that every life is a miracle and each person has something to contribute. See the person and not the disability.
‘’Persistence conquers resistance‘’-R. Ian Seymour

I would like to specifically reach out to all the youths out there facing challenges because of their ‘disability’, rise above it! You are not inferior; you are divinely packaged to make maximum impact in life and eternity. Don’t allow anybody to look down on you; don’t encourage people to throw out a ‘pity party’ for you. You are an unrepeatable miracle. You are unique and valuable. Don’t ever allow your conditions to determine your destination. You are not created to be pitied, you are created to be celebrated. No man will value you more than you value yourself; when you learn how much you are worth, you will stop giving people discounts.

We must believe totally that we carry within us a special form of ‘currency’ that cannot be devalued. Someone’s opinion of you does not have to become your own reality. I dedicate this piece to all the physically challenged youths out there to look deep within and limit their limitations. My advice to other disabled people would be: concentrate on things your disability doesn’t prevent you doing well, don’t regret the things it interferes with and never look down on your ability. Others can stop you temporarily but you are the only one who can do it permanently.

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