This week, I will be interviewing Paralympic athlete Peter Norfolk OBE. I plan to cover the following areas during the interview: childhood, his accident and rehabilitation, his experience at Stoke-Mandeville, wheelchair tennis, his training process, the Paralympics, his business EPC, his views on the current world of Disabled Athletics, and society’s attitude towards disabled people.
My concerns about the interview are pretty common: Will Mr. Norfolk easily find the University? Will the equipment work properly? Will my questions prompt some really great answers or will I be too nervous and leave Mr. Norfolk ill at ease or, worse, insulted? I seem to go back and forth with my confidence. At times, I am struck by a sort of paralyzing fear that I will do a terrible job. Most of the time, however, I feel like this will be a great experience and I feel confident that I will be able to ask questions and subtly direct the interview so that the end product is something we can both be happy with. I believe my enthusiasm for the topic should help me in both the preparatory work and the actual interview. I hope that the interview will allow me to gain insight into the world of the Paralympics and Disabled Athletics. I also hope Mr. Norfolk will feel this is a sufficient platform on which to speak freely about society’s attitudes towards disabled people, what needs to change, and how he feels that can be done.
On the whole, I am excited about our upcoming meeting and I hope he is able to enjoy the experience, too.
As a fan of the Olympics and the Paralympics, I have chosen to interview a Paralympian for my oral history project. London 2012 was the most visible Paralympic Games in history, but there are still doubts that this event has given proper attention to Disabled Athletics, its participants, and to disabled people outside the world of sports as well. I am hoping to interview a Paralympian who is either currently competing or recently retired – someone who competed in London and can give a firsthand account of that experience, how the event has changed in the past few years, and where the athlete feels the Paralympic Movement is headed. I also want to discuss the larger world of Disabled Athletics and whether more attention on disabled athletes means there has been a change in attitude towards all disabled people. This interview will also include the athlete’s life history, athletic career on the whole, and Paralympic career. I think these athletes have an incredibly important voice, but it has yet to truly be captured. While some oral history interviews have been done, and some projects are in the works, I think this group has been largely undiscovered and I would like my interview to be a small step in changing that.