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It’s about more than sport: Tokyo 2020

Category: Corporate Responsibility, Testimonials, Aviva, Sports, Paralympics, Olympic Games, Tokyo 2020

Testimonial

Ever wondered what it must be like to compete at an Olympics? As the Paralympics begins, we asked our very own Paralympian, Danny Nobbs, from our Corporate Responsibility team to share his insight into representing Team GB at the Beijing Games and what it must be like for those competing during COVID. 

 

Danny Nobbs

 

Over the last few weeks there has been a plethora of conflicting opinions and controversy surrounding the Olympic and Paralympic Games. With the spotlight on Tokyo during a time when the pandemic is far from over, people around the world are asking: should they still be running? What will the atmosphere be like in the stadiums and arenas? What does this mean for the athletes?

As someone who has had the privilege of competing at the Paralympic Games, it is the culmination of years of training, dedication and commitment. The thousands of training sessions, moments of elation, injuries, setbacks and tears which all come together for a moment in time like no other.

To me, the games are so much more than just a sporting event. Throughout time, they have transcended periods of difficulty and conflict, uniting countries and individuals around the globe - which as we know, is needed now more than ever.

Yes, the opening and closing ceremony celebrations were rightly muted. And there’s minimal atmosphere at events with just competitors and teams watching. And yes, there’s endless testing and precautions in place to keep everyone safe, which the athletes and support teams have a responsibility to adhere to. But allowing the games to happen is a symbol of hope after a really tough 18 months for countries around the world.

It’s about more than sport – it’s bringing nations and continents together, unifying people around the globe, with the Olympic flame burning as bright now as it always has.

I was selected for Paralympics GB at the 2008 Games in Beijing, in the F54 shot put. After a period of acclimatisation in Macau, we flew into the Olympic Village only a mile from the Birds Nest stadium.

The buzz around the team was immense, the mix of nerves, anticipation, confidence, but above all camaraderie. Although many of the events in athletics are individual, the sense of team spirit and togetherness was the aspect of the games I will remember above all else.

Every medal was celebrated back at the Village, with the medal tables being a focal point at the Team GB HQ, but equally important was the support given to those who gave their best but were beaten by a better performance on the day.

I will never forget being in the centre of the Birds Nest stadium at the closing ceremony, in front of 92,000 people, side by side with teams from around the world and with flower petals from the celebrations raining from the sky. Or the parade through the streets of London alongside my Olympic and Paralympic teammates, looking out across Trafalgar Square to a sea of union jacks. And then meeting the Queen and Duke of Edinburgh at Buckingham Palace…. all are memories which I will treasure for a lifetime.

For the athletes selected for Tokyo 2020, this is the moment they’ll have been dreaming of for so long. So let’s all get behind the team and let our cheers be heard. Even if it is from behind masks!

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