Intended for healthcare professionals

Views And Reviews

Who's got learning disabilities?

BMJ 1994; 308 doi: (Published 05 March 1994) Cite this as: BMJ 1994;308:664
  1. T Heller

    Great big tears were running down my face as the athlete I had been watching fell into the arms of her coach at the finish of the home straight. I was hoping that nobody would notice that the stadium doctor had succumbed to the high emotion of the event. In front of a crowded grandstand hundreds of Special Olympians were performing extraordinary athletic achievements. The young woman who had caught my attention was a blind athlete taking part in the 100 m walk. She had her own coach a pace in front of her, walking backwards and calling instructions. The relationship between that athlete and her coach was of such intensity and the effort so great that it touched a chord inside me and as they embraced just past the finishing line my tears welled up.

    Is it patronising to put on these events and to pretend that this really is the Olympics? What is going on when nearly 2000 people with learning disabilities and their coaches and escorts come to Sheffield for a week of sporting activities? Enthusiasts for the Special Olympics movement would say that it's a jamboree …

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