Lewis Hamilton became the youngest F1 driver ever recently and he will be top of the running for this year’s BBC sports personality, deservedly so. Whether you like him or hate him, you can’t deny he’s good at what he does and is a gifted driver, but his personality is suspect. I was taken back by the way he way he talks about his brother (who has cerebral palsy) in his autobiography, and his recent article in the News of the World shocked me a bit, his perception of disability is certainly different to the way many disabled people see themselves, especially me.
It is of course up to Lewis how he describes the personal relationship he has with his brother, but some the comments he makes are not helpful to disability sport and indeed disability in general. For years disability groups have been trying to move away from the ‘brave’ tag, and especially in sport we don’t want to be patted on the head for ‘having a go’, we want to be taken seriously and treated as equals. In society it is the same, disabled people don’t want to be treated as 2nd class citizens and denied any of our basic human rights. It’s very similar to Lewis’s campaign against racism which he is very passionate about, yet he talks about his brother quite patronisingly at times.
It is when he says his brother cannot do sport that particularly concerns me, as we all know that his brother would be more that capable of taking part in most sports – bloody hell, if I can go karting anybody can. It’s disappointing, with the recent success of the Paralympics, that a big sports star like Lewis can make such mis-informed comments. Don’t get me wrong, I’m sure Lewis loves his brother and they seem to have a good relationship, I just wish I could sit down with him and explain that being disabled isn’t the end of the world and that his brother could take part in sport up to as high a level as he does. Can you imagine the publicity that it would generate if Lewis’s brother were to take part in the 2012 Paralympics?
Lewis says his brother is his inspiration, but surely it should be the other way around?