This is not the first time that Russian paralympians have won at the winter games, but no one has ever talked about them this much until now. The contrast between the performances of our two national teams in Vancouver is enormous: 33 disabled people won more medals than 175 fit and healthy sportspeople.
It’s obvious that the difference lies in the quality of sports management. In any case, everything starts with the managers. The attitude to work and its pace depend on the managers. Our Olympic sport is more show-business orientated, it’s sort of pampered. Fat cats don’t want to move, you know. A large development budget is plus, but at a central office level this turns into a big minus. There are a lot of bureaucrats in the management of the Olympic Committee, whilst in the Paralympics Committee there are more people who know sport on the inside and invest a massive amount of spare time and effort in their work. They’ve achieved a lot, although on the financial side, for a long time the Committee was only just getting by and no more than three years ago it picked itself up.
The second difference is motivation. For a disabled person, a sporting career (even more so, participation in the Paralympic Games) is one of the few chances to prove to himself that he is successful and able despite everything. That’s why disabled people are more motivated by victory. The most important thing for a Paralympian is victory itself. Medals and prize money come second.
It is noteworthy that only starting from the 2008 Beijing Games the Paralympic prizes were raised to equal the Olympic prizes: €100,000 for gold, €60,000 for silver and €40,000 for bronze. Earlier they were several times less ($10,000, $4,000 and $2,000 respectively), but this had no effect on the results, they were still impressive – just look at what happened in Turin.
The motivation of disabled sportspeople is definitely unique. The battle for the self is a gruelling ordeal which forges character, but Lord forbid anyone undergo it! But all the same, is it really possible to create such a system of motivation for Olympians? I think it is. On the whole, sport, especially Olympic sport, is always a combination of ideals, worldviews and social positioning. All this is still important for people, but like any ideology, it needs to be promoted.
Where there is a clear system of ideological references, people achieve a lot more than when such a system is absent. Competing to bring glory to your country is wonderful, but from the beginning, the Olympic ideals were international, not national. These were the ideals of global cooperation, integration and striving for perfection. Alas, neither in adverts nor in the speeches of government officials do we hear that participating in a movement that will determine the future of civilization is prestigious. No one has cancelled the ideology of the Olympic movement and it’s still fully valid. It just needs to be applied.
Also, it’s sad that to think that if our Olympic team wouldn’t have flopped in Vancouver, then few would have paid any attention to the victories of our Paralympians (despite the fact that the Russian Winter Paralympics Team is one of the strongest in the world). In Russia disabled people are surrounded by stigma. No one wants to talk about their problems or successes. The sports press are careful to call Paralympians “sportsmen” and only recently the government started to provide them with meaningful financial help. I personally want their successes to become the start of a large ideological campaign to help integrate disabled people into society.
|VICTORY OF THE DISABLED|
|The Results of the Russian Teams at the Olympic and
|Salt Lake City 2002||Olympic||5||5||4||4|
Note: the comparatively low results of the Russian Paralympians at the summer games are explained by the fact that they only compete in 13 of the 20 types of sport (i.e. they can only compete for 30-40% of the prizes)