Note to sports editors:
"Spoonie": a person living with debilitating chronic illness which restricts daily living through exhaustion and/or pain. Origin: Christine Miserandino’s Spoon Theory where counting spoons is a metaphor for the calculated rationing of limited units of energy necessary to get through each day.
Spoonie athletes' disabilities are usually not visible, and cannot normally be overcome with the use of prosthetics or technology. Some use mobility aids such as powered wheelchairs but cannot compete in wheelchair events such as racing or basketball because the upper body is subject to the same degree of pain and weakness as the lower body.
Spoonie athletes generally possess the same quantity of grit, determination and human spirit as other Paralympic athletes. It may be less evident to spectators, however, because spoonilympic events often take place within the athlete’s own home and are not televised.
ME1 Triathlon Event for severely affected athletes.
This event involves performing a sequence of challenges – eating breakfast, having a bath and getting dressed afterwards. Many athletes with this class of impairment transcend their limitations simply by performing one of these feats each day, so to do all three together is a true test of the power of the human spirit against adversity.
The order of activities is crucial: eating must be done first otherwise low blood sugar levels could cause collapse during the succeeding events. And getting dressed must be done immediately after negotiating the exit from the bath. These athletes are highly sensitive to temperature changes and rapidly experience symptoms of hypothermia if not suitably dressed straight afterwards. Stamina will be near depletion after the second washing activity so the greatest test of endurance comes at this point in the event just after muscle power and balance and agility have been tested to the maximum. Many athletes will simply crawl naked under duvet at this point to keep warm. This may be a good pacing strategy that ensures long term endurance. But ultimately the athlete who dips into their energy reserves, ie going into “spoon debt”, to complete event the fastest will win Gold. The win will cost them dearly however. The payback from using up their reserves will prevent them competing in any other event in the season, while the duvet-hibernator may well win out overall in a series of events.
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The Hop, Skip and Slump.
This event has an element of chance and luck, statistically the odds are stacked on the competitor failing at least one element, and in this non-contact sport the risk of further injury is high.
Given ANY attempted walking, instant and unpredictable loss of use of a limb forces the first element, the hop.
This is followed by the tentative touching of offending limb/foot to the floor, the skip (as most participants will skip this element and repeat the hop stage as an alternative).
The final element is the slump, where the competitor slumps against furniture, walls, or for maximum points, the floor.
Points are awarded for distance travelled and the rate of descent, and a multiplier of potential to break a bone, hurt a bystander or damage to surroundings and possessions.