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SIX MONTH SEMI-ANNIVERSARY FEBRUARY ONLINE SPORTS EDITION
SPECIAL FEATURE 1
SPECIAL FEATURE 2
Paralympics give hope
A spectacular phenomenon occurs every four years. People from almost all the nations around the world gather to compete against each other in the Olympic games.
It is common belief that once the Olympics are over everyone packs up and heads home. This is not true because the Games have a counter part that takes place almost immediately after the Games are over. This counter part is known as the Paralympics.
The Paralympic Games are basically the same as the Olympic games only the competitors are disabled. The disabilities range anywhere from spinal cord injuries, to birth defects, to diseases and so on.
Usually when the Paralympics come up in a conversation people generally think about the Special Olympics. The Paralympics and the Special Olympics are two completely different things.
The level of competition at the Paralympics is just as high as the level of competition at the Olympic games. The competitors are racing and competing to be the best in the world. "I believe that [the disabled athleteís achievements] equal that of an able-bodied athlete," said Kathy Celo, Operations and program services manager for Disabled Sports USA.
The level of competition in the Special Olympics is drastically lower than that of either the Olympic games or the Paralympic Games. The Special Olympics is a program that was designed mainly for mentally challenged people. The Special Olympics is a "feel good" program during which every competitor is a winner just for competing.The Paralympics and the Special Olympics have nothing in common and are in no way the same thing.
The Paralympics have helped change many peopleís lives. It affects the millions of people who volunteer to help with the games, the spectators and the athletes. Matt Coppens is an athlete from Chicago Illinois.
"I think itís made a big change in my life," Coppens said. "When I was an able bodied [person] I went on with lifeÖI would work and then come home and relax and not do a whole lot. I didnít make a difference in my life or anyone elseís life. I didnít do anything to make myself stand out."
Since the accident that caused Coppens to lose both of his legs, he has become a Paralympic athlete. Coppens went to the Paralympic Games in Sydney, Australia as a member of the sit volleyball team. He is currently preparing for the winter games that are being held in Salt Lake City, Utah in March. He is heading to Salt Lake City as a member of the United States sledge hockey team.
"Paralympics are really important. Youíve got to go there with a strong spirit, a strong mind, and a strong will to win," Coppens said. "All together when it pays off it doesnít matter what sport Iím in or that I place a medal, itís that Iím doing things with my life now that I havenít done before."
The Paralympics are becoming better known throughout the world due to better media coverage and countries like Australia embracing the games in the manner that they do. According to Celo the Summer Paralympics in Sydney, Australia had a higher attendance than the í96 Olympic games in Atlanta, Ga.