The 2012 Olympics gave us countless heroes – The rowers, Chad Le Clos, (and his dad) Cameron Breaking the World Record, Usain living up to his Surname… and plenty more moments to inspire us as we sit on the couches watching, lazily.
But, the most inspirational was, undeniably Oscar Pistorious. From Samuel L Jackson to EVERY SINGLE SOUTH AFRICAN with a twitter account, he was spoken about… with awe and pride.
Now we get an overdose of inspiration. Sure, it’s impressive to run fast, Jamaica – but to do it with a handicap? And to even FATHOM being able to do it in the first place? now THAT is inspiration.
I am INCREDIBLY fortunate to have witnessed one of the London 2012’s Paralympian stars inspiring journey. Emily Gray was the little sister of my High school besties, twins Lucinda and Fern. She was always the cutest little girl with a shock of blonde hair a gruff voice and tomboy tendencies, climbing trees, paragliding and surfing at the coast.
Not a demure girly-girl at all, of all the little kids that really live life and embrace every moment, Ems was one. Not that ANYONE deserves Cancer, but Emily REALLY DIDN’T. I believe she was 11 when a sharp pain in her hip lead to an eventual loss of her left leg by amputation. Lose a leg to save a life. In the grand scheme of things, it makes sense.
In her words: …Going through chemo-therapy is something I would never want anyone to experience in their life. As the chemo wasn’t reducing the cancer I was faced with the decision of ‘loose my leg or my life’. The reality was that I would have my left leg amputated at the hip. The magnitude of this type of decision is obviously indescribable. But to this day I would still make that decision I made when I was 11, I don’t regret it one bit…
(Read Emily’s full story here)
Not one to feel sorry for herself, and embracing the fact that she was victorious over cancer, Emily found swimming almost immediately as a new outlet for her love of physical activity. A weightless environment where she could still move swiftly.
I don’t mean to over-sentimentalise any of this, but FRICK! I told you it was inspiring. When faced with all of that, and given every reason to feel sorry for ones self, This little girl threw herself into a swimming pool and changed focus.
And now? Now she is in London after having turned 21 last week, about to represent her country, our country at the Paralympics. And she DESERVES the whole country’s support, pride and well wishes. She’s an inspiration to everyone. When life hands you cancer, become an Olympian.
Follow her on Twitter and tweet your support to her @EmilyGraySA and the other Paralympians too. Because. Dammit. A gold in the paralympics is an even bigger acheivement. It represents all they have overcome, and all that they conquered to be real Heroes. Heroes worth celebrating.
(And not for nothing, but she’s grown up to be a real hotty too!
London 2012 schedule:
All in UK times (SA 1 hour ahead). Specific times for Emily, not full event times:
~ 31 August: 100m backstroke
10:41am heats, 18:47pm finals
~ 4 September: 400m freestyle
10:41am heats, 18:08pm finals
~ 6 September: 200m IM
9:43am heats, 17:37pm finals
~ 7 September: 100m free
9:36am heats, 17:35 finals —
*Hero high five*