It isn’t just great sporting victories that pass down inspiration. Sport has a rich spirit that even if we don’t succeed, ensures that any true endeavour is never wasted effort.
By Tom Jamison
It’s remarkable how dear those memories of London 2012 are to people. It seems that everyone loves a bit of nostalgia and thinking back to that amazing summer when the weather was fine and the crowd were happy and proud always puts a smile on our faces.
I’m sometimes, even now, asked what my favourite moment of the Games was and my guess is that I’m expected to say something about David Weir or Sarah Storey and their massive medal hauls, but I don’t. My moment of the Games wasn’t to do with victory and winning, it was to do with defeat, coming second – failure, you might say – although I wouldn’t describe it that way at all.
One of the emergent stars of the Paralympics was table tennis player, Will Bayley. The young, relatively unknown at the time, Bayley fought like a lion to get into the gold medal final of the class 7 table tennis competition where he faced the more experienced German, Jochen Wollmert. After a four set match Wollmert finished the final set 11-4 before Bayley succumbed to the emotion of the moment and crumpled to the floor in tears. After barely a moment of celebrating his hard won victory, the German was careful to console Bayley with words of commiseration.
This says a great deal about the Paralympic spirit, with Wollmert recognising what an incredible journey Bayley had taken, and under the weight of local expectation. It also shows the mutual respect and sense of community that Paralympic athletes have beyond their sporting rivalries.
Wollmert and Bayley showed the intensity of sport in that final. Whilst Wollmert came out on top, I can’t think that anyone would have described Bayley as a loser – after all, even in defeat, he had won so many hearts.