My Paralympic inspiration

It was this time last year that London 2012 began its Paralympic legacy, with record crowds coming together for an inspiring two weeks of sport. Olympic fever had swept the nation and sporting fans were all hoping that the Paralympics would continue the party.

The Paralympics more than delivered. I visited the Olympic stadium on “Thrilling Thursday” and witnessed an unparalleled sporting atmosphere. It was electric. (Read the article here)

This was just one night amongst a fortnight of incredible stories. However, Alex Zanardi’s victory in the handcycling at Brands Hatch was one of the great moments of the games. The Italian’s story is made for a Hollywood script. His life journey has been epic and courageous but at last year’s Paralympics, his sporting journey reached its pinnacle.

Zanardi raced in the world of motorsport for a decade. He was a charming character, respected by his peers during his brief spells in Formula One and, in CART racing, Zanardi proved himself to be a winner. His “donut” celebrations became infamous with fans across America.

It was in 2001 that he experienced the devastating crash that resulted in both of his legs being amputated. The charismatic Italian almost lost his life but has never let that accident thwart his love of racing. He helped to design his own custom-made prosthetic legs so that he could return to the track. His positivity and determination never waivered and, in 2006, he won his first race since his crash in the World Touring Car Championship.

Zanardi’s handcycling career began in 2007, when after only a few weeks of training he raced his first marathon in New York and finished in fourth place. It was soon after that he continued to cycle and made the London 2012 Paralympics his target.

Fast forward to 2012 and Zanardi returned to Brands Hatch looking for Paralympic glory. The setting was perfect, the Italian had raced before at Brands Hatch, but never won a race in his car. Returning to the famous motorsport circuit in his handcycle, he won the hearts of the nation as he claimed gold in both the individual H4 time trial and the individual H4 road race in emphatic style. With his handcycle waived high above his head and joyful tears streaming down his face, the Italian’s emotional post-race interviews and celebrations encompassed the spirit of London 2012.

What makes the buoyant Zanardi stand out from the crowd is his unrivalled determination to succeed in sport. His next goal is to win more medals at the 2013 UCI Para-cycling Road World Championships this weekend. At 47, he is adamant that Rio 2016 is his next target, and nobody should doubt him.

Olympic Glory: Abebe Bikila

Abebe Bikila winning in Rome 1960
Source: ethiozoo.com

Friday 27th July 2012. A date to remember. It has been a fifty-four year wait for London and now the Olympic opening ceremony is only hours away; the world waits in anticipation for the greatest sporting spectacle of all. If … Continue reading

LIVE EVENT: Hockey Final at the Olympic Park

Jonty Clarke, Harry Martin and  Nick Catlin of Team GB sign autographs after the match.

Last Sunday, I visited the Riverbank Arena at the Olympic Park to watch the Visa International Invitational Hockey Tournament. Even though the cold temperatures made the test event feel more a part of the Winter Olympics, there were still two men’s hockey matches to look … Continue reading

NBA playoff moments – Michael Jordan

The NBA playoffs are now well under way; all fire extinguishers are currently being hidden from all of the New York Knicks players and spectators are ready for some great matches and magic moments from the current stars of the game. Big names such as Kobe Bryant and LeBron James are always in the mix to produce something special at this point, as they have done in the past.

However, will any of these players be able to perform well enough to make them ‘the next Michael Jordan’? It’s something that is mentioned often by the media, especially because there is a talented generation playing in the NBA right now who are producing stellar performances.

Looking back though, it’s hard to see another man bring as much excitement to the NBA as Michael Jordan did.

Michael Jordan will definitely enter Play with Flair’s Hall of Fame, but which other basketball greats should join him?

Have your say below.

Johan Cruyff and Pep Guardiola: The master or his pupil?

Johan Cruyff and Pep Guardiola

Pep Guardiola’s resignation this week, although not a complete shock, marks the end of a stunning era at Barcelona. His philosophy of how the game should be played has ultimately developed one of the greatest teams ever to grace the planet. … Continue reading

Ronnie O’Sullivan or Stephen Hendry?

As the World Snooker Championships begin today and Play with Flair has announced the creation of their Hall of Fame, what better way to celebrate than to discuss two of snooker’s greats: Ronnie O’Sullivan and Stephen Hendry.

It is great news that this year both will be competing in the event again. Together they boast almost 50 years at the Crucible, which is an astonishing amount of time. Continue reading