ade_22-09-11Over the last few weeks I've started to feel really bruised from pinching myself constantly just to check that I haven't been dreaming. Since the end of August the Paralympics have literally exploded into the public arena.

There has been all the controversy surrounding Oscar Pistorius running at the World Athletics Championships in Daegu. I can't imagine what the publicity will be like when he competes in 2012 at the Para's and the Olympics. The funniest thing that I've heard in opposition to his inclusion was that he shouldn't be allowed to run because his blades created an unduly large carbon footprint, which could affect London's attempt to put on the greenest Games in history. You've got to love the British sense of humour.

Then there was International Paralympic Day, the launch of Paralympic tickets and Sainsbury's Super Saturday all in a row. All of this makes me think the Paralympics have come a long way in the last twenty-five years.

As a young boy growing up in East London I didn't know the Paralympics existed until I was about fourteen. I always dreamt of playing football for England. I would be the first disabled man to play for England and I'd run the midfield with an iron foot. Well, I did wear callipers made from some sort of metal at the time and I'm sure they would have been great for tackling. I blame my delusions on Um Bongo; that sunny, funny tropical fruit drink that they sold to children in the eighties that made you think and do strange things.

When I was about 17, a group of us used to scrimmage at Little Ilford School in East London every Thursday night. It was at a youth club and most of the able-bodied kids played pool, table tennis or messed about with the computers.

A hardcore group of us all in wheelchairs used to take over the sports hall and play some intense basketball. The matches always became heated and there was usually a big argument at the end over players not calling fouls, which would get close to a full-on fight. Most of the time we made up at the end and conversation soon changed from bragging about our skills on the basketball court to talking about how cool it would be if we could get big crowds to come to our club matches. I even remember saying, "It would be awesome if disabled athletes could get big sponsors."

We also spoke about how good we could become if we played full time and got given the same respect as able-bodied athletes. But I don't think any of us really believed that Paralympic sport would reach that point.

Twenty years later, everything has changed and Paralympic sport is well and truly in the spotlight with Channel 4 as the host broadcaster and giving it more coverage than ever before.

Although I believe we still have some work to do to increase the profile of Paralympic athletes, we are in a very exciting place. We are at a crossroads if you like but if we can capitalise on the growing interest surrounding Paralympic sport, 2012 could leave us all with a very profound legacy indeed.

Ade Adepitan is a Paralympic wheelchair bronze medallist for Great Britain and lead presenter of Channel 4's most recent Paralympic programme "That Paralympic Show", which can be seen on Channel 4 Saturdays at 1.25pm. Channel 4 is the host broadcaster for the 2012 London Paralympic Games.