When Professor Stephen Hawking who is confined to a wheelchair with motor neurone disease spoke through his voice syntheziser and urged that we, “look up at the stars, and not down at your feet,” he opened our minds. When David Toole who was born without legs danced with incredible movement, sensitivity and expression and then magically took to the air he opened our eyes to the world of physical possibility rather than physical disability.
When Mohammed Fahim Rahimi who lost both his legs to a landmine carried the national flag of Afghanistan into the stadium and Royal Marine Commando, Joe Townsend, who lost both his legs to a landmine in Afghanistan, flew into the packed stadium on a zip wire with the Olympic torch they reminded us of the ultimate impotence of war and the power of sport to transcend prejudice and grievance.
What these superheroes teach us is that whether you have just failed to get the exam grades you expected, whether you have just lost your job, whether you have suffered great personal loss, whether you are trapped in a conflict from which there seems no escape, whether you are ill, whether you are old, you are not powerless, but powerful and can choose to act this day as a victim or a victor, to rise above or sink below. These are the true messengers of the gods who inspired the ancient Olympians on to greatness and who can inspire us again today.