Evan O’Hanlon: Earning Your Own Respect

Australia’s Paralympic champion sprinter sounds off in reaction to being quoted in the British newspaper, the Daily Mail. 08 May 2012
Evan O'Hanlon media image

Evan O'Hanlon speaks to the media at the 2011 IPC Athletics World Championships in Christchurch, New Zealand.

By Evan O'Hanlon

I want to see more Paralympians in the paper and it seems that all we need to do is be outlandish.

If you follow the IPC on Twitter – like like you should be – you may have seen that I was quoted in the Daily Mail (UK) a little while ago in a story about Scary Spice, or Mel B as she is more commonly referred to these days and can, as a result, now claim the title of a social commentator.

I was a little harsh on the star in a quick tweet and was quoted in the Daily Mail as follows:

“Her presenting debut even prompted Paralympic triple gold medallist Evan O'Hanlon to write: ‘When Mel B comes on my television I want to throw my TV out the window! Why did they break Australian television like that???’”

The fact that I was quoted and my gold medals used to give my statement some kind of legitimacy was quite surprising, but what I found interesting about the article was Mel B's reaction to everyone's comments.

She didn't shy away from the article or refuse to comment, but instead took the stance that I would like to think I would have taken. She stood up, defended herself as a performer and was quite coolly quoted as saying that the comments really meant nothing to her, as she believed in what she was doing and was enjoying her job despite those who were obviously of a different opinion to her.

I have to say that after the article, my opinion of Mel B has risen. She stood up for what she believes in in the face of significant pressure, waving away the opinions of those that are not close to her because I think that, like me, she believes that the opinions of people close to you are the only opinions that matter.

Before I start the wind up and what we can learn from the story, I'd like to say that I don't want to sound like I am of the opinion that I have an infinite wisdom which I feel the need to impart upon the world. But I do think that I have learned something from this story.

First off, never put anything on Twitter that you don't want your grandmother to see.

Second, as a Paralympian it is easier to get in the newspaper for making outrageous comments rather then your sporting prowess, so get to it.

I want to see more Paralympians in the paper and it seems that all we need to do is be outlandish.

And finally, I think that all of us should take a good look at Mel B's reaction to the comments made about her and understand that she took the stance of a strong, confident person.

The stance that I think anyone should take in any similar situation in their life, whether it be in a relationship, at work or in sport.

She stood up for what she believes in, and that, my friends, may make you some enemies, but ultimately it will earn you respect with those who matter and you will be revered as a formidable opponent by those that you come up against.

It is not always the easy option, but if you always take the easy option, then where is the fun in life?

I’d like to think that despite the trouble that is sometimes caused by standing up for myself and my opinions, it allows me to sleep better at night because I know I am being true to myself.

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