by Julia Dugan
The Paralympics, an event that happen along with the Olympics, are an important part in today’s society. Trained athletes with disabilities come together to compete in events, like Wheelchair Tennis and Para Triathlon. Paul Moran, an accomplished Paralympic athlete, competed in many Paralympics and is an inspiring athlete to many.
Paul Moran competed in different events in the Paralympics, specifically wheelchair basketball and sit volleyball. “My wheelchair basketball coach told me about tryouts for the 1992 Paralympic sitting volleyball team. Standing volleyball was also a Paralympic sport back then. A lot of my training was just hopping up and down the stairs to get my leg strong, even though I ended up making it as a sitting player playing on my butt,” he said, laughing. He ended up playing on the sit volleyball team for four Paralympics. Mr. Moran also competed as a wheelchair tennis player in the Paralympics. “I was hitting the ball pretty well as a former baseball player. It is pretty easy to find a ball with a big racket, and I fell in love with it. But I never thought I’d be a Paralympic wheelchair tennis player,” he explained.
Mr. Moran said that that the training he goes through differs from what other athletes go through. He needed to go through lots of repetitions. “When I made the wheelchair tennis team, it was because I was playing in lots of tournaments and doing a lot of practice on my own, working on all aspects of my game,” he said. He advised that if you want to do want to do well at something, it’s all about investing time and the amount of effort put into it.
There wasn’t always amazing coverage for the Paralympics. Mr. Moran said that he and his teammates had to pave their own path. “I was just fortunate that my dad went to church with a man that owned Solo Cup. Bob Hulseman donated enough money to send me and another player both to the games. I don’t think the other player even knew who paid his way,” he said. Mr. Moran explained that when he saw the coverage of the Beijing Paralympics afterwards and heard the people doing the commentary, he knew they weren’t really there. They were watching taped footage and recording from a studio somewhere. “I didn’t think that cut it. It really broke my heart how little NBC invested in covering it. I mean, they had an army of people in Beijing, and as soon as the Olympics were over, they were all gone, and there were a couple people working where they had thousands of people working there before,” he explained. “They wouldn’t invest in just having a couple people stay there, even fly some new people in to do a couple of play by plays.” Even though the Paralympics used to not be shown as much, there is more coverage now. “We used to not be seen as much, and it’s nice to see its gotten better coverage and there’s more representation now, and that’s a great thing. I think if we continue to have better coverage and people respond to it I think we’ll see more of it and it grow.”
Mr. Moran thinks that the Paralympics truly are an inspiring event. He says that people just don’t know what they are missing. “I just think that it’s amazing, you know the first time I went I felt like a spectator, I was marveling at what people could do. I think if people don’t give watching the Paralympics a chance they are missing out on a great opportunity to see truly inspiring stuff.”
Paul Moran says that finding a way to support athletes in the community is one of the greatest things people can do to help out. “I think that really one of the greatest things about the Paralympics is that it encourages people with disabilities to get active and start doing something that could end up being spectacular.”