Opinion: Our Paralympians doing extraordinary things

Peterborough MP Paul Bristow writes his regular column for the Peterborough Telegraph...

Saturday, 4th September 2021, 2:15 pm
PPeterborough's Lauren Steadman of Team Great Britain reacts as she crosses the finish line to win the gold medal in the women's PTS5 Triathlon on day 5 of the Tokyo 2020 Paralympic Games at Odaiba Marine Park on August 29, 2021. (Photo by Alex Pantling/Getty Images)

If our heroes at the Paralympics are showing us anything, it’s that those with disabilities are capable of extraordinary things. As I write, we sit second in the medals table, and like the Olympics only a few weeks ago, they are showing truly the best of Britain.

A week or so ago, I put a post on Facebook about the Paralympics.

I mentioned one or two of the athletes from Peterborough (or close by) who are flying the flag.

Sign up to our daily newsletter

The i newsletter cut through the noise

What amazed me was how readers of my post quickly reminded me of the athletes I had missed.

It shows you how proud Peterborough people are of these stars doing it for our country on the other side of the world.

I know that having a disability should never be a reason to hold a person back from fulfilling their potential.

This is why I became the parliamentary champion of the Conservative Disability Group at Westminster. It was a role that was easy to say yes to when asked if I was interested. If people with disabilities are not able to fulfil their promise, this country will not be all it can be. But it is regrettable that sometimes it takes something special like the Paralympics to remind us of that.

The Peterborough Telegraph and Peterborough Matters, to their credit, have run a brilliant campaign together with disability campaigners highlighting how unfriendly sometimes our city centre can be for people with disabilities. I have read with admiration about their efforts and they have my support.

But of course there are hidden disabilities and 
conditions that we don’t see that are equally as important. Not all disabilities are physical. Not everyone’s mind works in the same way.

However, just as with physical disabilities, it is important that those with unseen challenges are able to reach their potential.

I have already broken one of the rules I set myself when I got this job – a little bit unexpectedly – in December 2019.

If you try to take on too many campaigns, chairmanships or roles, you may not end up doing any to the best of your ability. But campaigning and helping is addictive. There is no knowing how long this job will last and I need to give it my all.

So being a disabilities champion in Westminster remains a priority. I hope I can now do the same here in Peterborough.

Lastly I want to congratulate James Fox on his rowing mixed coxed quad gold medal over the weekend.

I also want to congratulate Lee Manning, Matt Skelhon and Lydia Church on their achievements in their events in wheelchair basketball, mixed rifle shooting and F12 shot put. They make me proud of Peterborough.