i Editor's Letter: Football divas? Paralympians can be difficult too


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The Independent Online


Some of the best moments of the Paralympics to date have been after the events: Jody Cundy's anger at his harsh disqualification; the sudden release of pent-up rage and frustrated ambition that was Richard Whitehead's victory celebration; the milking-it lap of honour of Welsh discus thrower, Aled "that's the furthest I've ever run" Davies; Ellie Simmonds' interview tears; and, of course, Oscar Pistorius' epic post-race misjudgement in attacking his Brazilian conqueror's blades, when he has long argued it's not about the blades.

Pistorius and Cundy, as much as the (truly quite extraordinary) feats of others including David Weir and Simmonds, allow us to do that rare thing with the Games: forget any saccharine-laced idealism and truly treat them as we would other sport (see Dominic Lawson p23 for a different view), warts and all. They betrayed the self-absorbed obsession with winning that says "top athlete".

At last, there is a discourse that frees us from the constraints of wading through the kind of quagmire of political correctness that saw organisers give out handbooks on acceptable terminology at the start of the Games.

Ronaldo is "sad" at Real Madrid on his £200k a week and mass adoration? Di Canio humiliates a 20-year-old goalie by substituting him in the 21st minute? Pietersen sends texts mocking his own captain? Armstrong betrays the faith of thousands of cycling fans? We all know what we call them in private but can't quite say in a family newspaper. What a relief it is to be able to write that champion Paralympians can be difficult buggers too.