Parallel (definition)
- to form a parallel to; be equivalent to; equal.
- to show the identity or similarity of; compare.
- to make parallel.
It will always be an honour for any athlete to represent their country. Every Australian athlete I know has always been proud to wear the green and gold, in any sport, at any level.
I often ask people if they know what the term ‘Para’ in the term Para athlete or Paralympic means.
I usually get a response - ‘doesn’t it mean ‘Para’ as is paraplegic’?
The answer is no. ‘Para’ stands for Parallel.
Yes, para means parallel.
Pardon my ignorance, but if ‘Para’ means parallel, someone is not ready to really let the nation work to that level. But ironically, ask any Australian Para athlete what it means to wear the green and gold, and they will tell you it is an honour and privilege as any able bodied athlete.
Yet for me personally, with over 20 years in sport, and representing Australia in two sports at elite level, finding financial support as a para athlete has always been a battle.
Triathlon made its debut in the 2016 Paralympics, and Australia even won a gold medal. Granted all sports (Olympic and Paralympic) take a financial cut as we are in the new period of the next four-year cycle towards Tokyo 2020. However, even with Paralympic medals and developing para athletic talent for Tokyo across all sports within Australia (some which were not even fortunate enough to have their category represented at the Paralympics in Rio) the government does not shine any form of financial parallel here.
No. There is no funding for Para triathlon. Medals or not. And I am sure this may be the case for other Para sports.
I propose we scrap the terms ‘able bodied’ and ‘Para’, and review what ‘disability’ really means in today’s society. And I don’t just mean in sport.
The real challenge lies in the beliefs and thought processing of the human mind, and what the government and media reinforce to be the ‘norm’ in today’s society. Take out the physical components of disability, and we are all limited in some way – decision making, leadership skills, mathematical ability, fitness level, patience, commitment, diet, the list goes on.  However, these are not seen as disabilities, but societies perception of simply, normal ‘differences’. 
For Australian Paralympic athletes and aspiring Para athletes, funding is significantly less or zero. Kudos to Channel 7 and the much needed and appreciated sponsors of the 2016 Rio Paralympic Games and Paralympic athletes. Also, what an inspiration and pleasure to see a very respected and admired Paralympic tennis player on the Channel 7 network during the 2017 Australian Open. Maybe the Australian Government can learn from it's people and what they want to see and hear. 
If not for my time in the sport, let’s work towards the next generation of talent in para sport. AND MAKE IT PARALLEL.