American wheelchair rugby player Chuck Aoki says it’s time for athletes to act upon the IPC’s core value of “inspiration.”
Chuck AokiChuck Aoki © • Getty Images
By Chuck Aoki

“You're so inspiring ... You are amazing, I'm just really inspired by what you do ... I'm just so inspired by you.”
These are words we have all heard as Paralympic athletes, and most people in wheelchairs have as well.
And for most of my life, I have hated being called “inspiring.”
Being inspirational felt like it was something that should be reserved for children, or people in hopeless situations, who fight on regardless. I haven't considered myself to be in either of these categories, at least not since I've been above the age of 15.
As such, I always took offense to being told I was “inspirational” by anyone, because it felt like this inspiration came out of pity toward me. And no one wants to be pitied, least of all Paralympic athletes.
But as I get older, I start to think more about being “inspiring” to people, and I've started to wonder, is it really such a bad thing to be inspiring?
I didn't set out to be inspiring when I began playing wheelchair rugby. My goal was to become the best I could be at it, and I've done fairly well at that.
I've faced a lot of unique challenges to get to this point, but never given up, despite how easily I could have. All Paralympic athletes have. For that matter all people with an impairment who stay active have.
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