Blind judo at London 2012 – the loser’s story

Blind judo

Blind judo at the O2Blind, like in a windowless room with no lights. Somebody’s hand on your arm. Your own hand on their arm. And they are about to attack.

In the dark they’ll try and trip you, throwing themselves on top of you, trying to pin your shoulders to the floor.

As you fall back you fight back, sensing the position of their body from arms and knees and the sound of their breath. You twist to gain some advantage, to get free. Their strength is tremendous. They are trying to put you on your back where you are most exposed. To hold you there, vulnerable, for long seconds while you struggle. It’s so close you can smell their body and breath, and feel their skin.

They are stronger, smarter. The opportunities are going.

It’s gone. The hope that held you for four long years has gone in twenty seconds. The pain and long hours and bad times. It was for this. Second best, fourth best, last.

The sense of failure sweeps over you as the roar of clapping comes from all around.

They saw it all. The people with sight saw every move you attempted, every mistake you made. And the cameras recorded it and sent it live back to your home country where your family and friends can see your failure.

The call of the referee. The release of the grip. Then your trainer’s familiar hand helping you to your feet and guiding your from the stadium. There are footsteps in front of you. Confident ones. The footsteps of the unseen victor.

You fight the tears. It’s hard. You’re an athlete. You’re not meant to show emotion. You’re supposed to take defeat with dignity. But you’re also human. A man, a woman, a sensitive soul who has put everything into this.

Your trainer leads you away from the victor towards the nearer door. The sound of the cheering follows you as well as the winner. They’ve seen your tears. They felt your emotions. They know what you’ve been through.

Azerbaijan (blue) versus Turkey (white)

Placed in contact with each other
Placed in contact with each other
Beware the feet
Beware the feet
And the arm twist
And the arm twist
Over (from a different match)
Over (from a different match)
And down
And down
Your nation’s anthem, played for your success
Your nation’s anthem, played for your success

Woman’s lightweight at the London 2012, at the ExCel Centre, Paralympics, London 2012.
Azerbaijan fought three matches. In the finals, she won with a single throw.

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