Bega Valley's Chris Sparks OAM feels for the 2021 Paralympians competing in unprecedented times, having competed in the 1988 Paralympics himself.
While watching the Tokyo Games recently with his wife Wendy, Mr Sparks said he felt sad for the Olympians, seeing the stands empty of fans.
"The atmosphere in major games is something else, you know, when you're in a stadium with 20 or 30,000 screaming fans cheering you on," Mr Sparks, a former Paralympic wheelchair basketballer, said.
Mr Sparks also shared with ACM some insight into what life inside the prestigious world class competition is like.
"When you're competing, it's a very different world to being a spectator and it's often a build up that takes years and years of hard work," Mr Sparks said.
Mr Sparks said what people often don't realise is that the build up towards the event involved tremendous discipline and that for some athletes, who spend months if not years preparing for a competition, it is over within minutes.
"So it's a tremendous build up, it's great elation if you succeed, but equally, it can be pretty heartbreaking if you don't do as well as you set out to," he said.
In Mr Sparks' case, being part of a team helped a lot with the pressure and lead up to competitions.
"You get this great sense of camaraderie and companionship, which is something that when the Games are over, I think a lot of people miss," he said.
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Mr Sparks competed in the 1988 Paralympics at Seoul, as well as in two World Gold Cups. He was even a torch bearer at the Sydney Olympics in 2000.
Among his many achievements, Mr Sparks represented NSW on 10 occasions and Australia on seven, while playing wheelchair basketball from 1981 to 1993.
He was also awarded Australia's most valuable player at the 1986 Gold Cup in the World Wheelchair Basketball Championships, and won gold with the 1986 Australian team at the Stoke-Mandeville Games in England.
Mr Sparks said one of the great aspects about Paralympic events was that they can "often be a great catalyst for social change".
"Back when I used to compete, no-one would have ever thought they'd see a country like Iran with a disability sporting program for men and women, yet now Iran's there and they're good," he said.
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Mr Sparks also listed the Barcelona Games as an example for social change.
He said that after hosting the Paralympics, Barcelona adapted and made changes to make everything more accessible within the city.
"They went to the nth degree and Barcelona is pretty much regarded as the most accessible place on the planet now," Mr Sparks said.
With the current Olympic and Paralympic Games hosted by Tokyo, Mr Sparks hoped the Paralympian team have had more accessibility than when he worked in Japan.
Having lived in Hong Kong for a couple years with his wife Wendy, he discovered there was room for improvement for accessibility.
"I did a lot of work in Tokyo, and Tokyo is not accessible, it's getting better slowly, very slowly, but the basics of getting around and finding a place to stay was hard," Mr Sparks said.
"I'm really looking forward to hearing reports back from the athletes," he added.
To keep up with the latest on the 2021 Paralympics, visit our page begadistrictnews.com.au/sport/olympics-2021/