Daraine Luton, Senior Staff Reporter
Alphanso Cunningham spun around in his wheelchair, plucked his gold medal from his pocket, placed it around his neck and turned to greet Speaker of the House of Representatives Michael Peart.
Cunningham, who won the medal at the London Games this year, was among the delegation that attended Tuesday's sitting of the House
Peart said it was important for the House to say thanks to the Paralympians for their performance in London.
"It is a feeling of elation, we are proud of the performance of our Paralympians despite the fact they won only one gold medal," he told The Gleaner.
"They represented Jamaica well and all accommodate to them," the speaker added.
But the route to paying homage to the athletes was not a smooth one. The physically challenged persons had to navigate their way up the Gordon House stairs, swinging, in some instances, on the handrails until they made it to the level where the parliamentary chamber was located. There, Cunningham and Sylvia Grant were reunited with their wheelchairs, which were held for them until they navigated the obstacle course.
In the midst of greeting the athletes, Peart apologised for the ordeal in making it to the chamber.
He later told The Gleaner that "For the 21st century that is an embarrassment. Rather than waiting for a new Parliament, this demonstrates that we need to make some adjustments to this present building to accommodate our disabled people."
Leader of Government Business Phillip Paulwell, and clerk to the Houses of Parliament, Heather Cooke, all took turns in feeling the weight of the medal. Paulwell noted that it is solid gold. The gold medal is in fact made up of 92.5 per cent silver, 1.34 per cent gold and the remainder copper.
The Paralympics delegation comprised president Christopher Samuda, Dr Rory Dixon, Annmarie Smith, Nevil Sinclair, Jefferson Davis, as well as Cunningham, Grant and Mark Burton.
Full caption: House Speaker Michael Peart (second left) takes a look at the gold medal won by Alphanso Cunningham at the 2012 Paralympic Games in London. Cunningham and other members of Jamaica's Paralympic team visited Gordon House yesterday. Other persons in attendance were six-times paralympian Sylvia Grant (foreground); Christopher Samuda (right), president of the Jamaica Paralympics Association, and paralympic coach Jefferson Davis. - Rudolph Brown/ Photographer