Posts filed under ‘Wheelchair sports’

The Paralympics Come of Age

The Paralympics have come to a close because all good things have to come to an end. Probably unlike any games before the wider sports fan recognised all of the athletes as just that Athletes who have dedicated hours of their lives to reach the Paralympic games and the peak in their chosen discipline.

The reaction of Jody Cundy when disqualified in the cycling and Oscar Pistorious when pipped in the 200m final by Alan Oliviera showed that these athletes really do care and it means a lot to be the best in the world, just as it does with any top athlete in any sport.

The great thing about the Paralympics was everyone saw beyond colour, religion, conflicts and disabilities, that is what made them so magical. Hopefully these games will have enabled people to look passed people’s disability and see the person, the athlete. Hopefully sports fans have connected with what these athletes can do and focus on that.

There was a tweet on the Final Leg in their section on whether it was OK to ask this question, where a woman asked if she should stop her children putting their arms inside their jumpers as they played sport in the garden and declared they were Paralympians. Hopefully the answer is “no,” as the Games have obviously had an impact on these children and they will remember them for many years to come, and if that is a positive memory which it would appear it is as they want to be Paralympians as they have been touched by them then that has to be good.

I for one attended the Stoke Mandeville Games in the 1970’s and they had a profound effect on me as a young sports-loving academic-hating boy, and that is why I have continued to follow similar sporting events and lend support where possible.

The British bid promised a Games that would influence a generation and the signs are that any child who attended or watched these Paralympic Games will ever forget them, and if that means that it changes the way they view disability and view it more as differently abled then the legacy of these games will indeed be tremendous.

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September 11, 2012 at 4:33 pm Leave a comment

Comical Oscar

It may not have been the Paralympics that South African Oscar Pistorius hoped for, but he has achieved another first outside of the Games.

He has made his way into the long running legendary British comic the Beano. He has however been re-named Oscar Victorious in the comic, which also featured Heptathlon Gold Medal winner from Great Britain Jessica Ennis.

Victorius apparently joins Dennis the Menace and his dog Gnasher and is helped when Gnasher bites off one of his opponents shorts.

Editor Mike Stirling was quoted as saying “When people told Oscar he couldn’t be an athlete due to his disability, he ignored them and in that respect he’s a lot like Dennis, who never does as he is told.”

September 11, 2012 at 8:08 am Leave a comment

Gold Blinger

Despite spending 8 days at Olympic Park for the Paralympics my eyesight must be failing me, or maybe I was too busy watching all of the Australian athletes in action, as I missed something that should have been easy to spot.

Paralympics GB apparently laid on its own tribute to its Gold medal winners, a chauffeured gold BMW to take them on victory parades around Olympic Park.

Methinks that Britain’s athletes were all far too humble to be seen being driven around in such an ostentatious vehicle, and that is why I never spotted it. My eyes are obviously fine!

September 10, 2012 at 4:15 pm Leave a comment

Much Ado About Nothing?

The dawn of social media has been the curse of mainstream media, but probably never more so than during the Olympic and Paralympic Games, as the public were able to air their views instantly via the likes of Twitter and Facebook, rather than writing to Chief Editors or Program Directors and never receiving a response.

Channel 4 in the UK is to be applauded for changing their planned programming following complaints from the general public that there were too many advertising breaks in their coverage of the Paralympic games. They also took onboard the complaints that the timing of the breaks was often at crucial times in an event. Channel Four listened and in fact increased the amount of sport shown and cut back on studio time, and are to be applauded for doing so.

When they did go to the studio, the format was excellent. With one or two hosts depending on the time of day and usually a former Paralympian or Olympian as a guest ensuring that the coverage was both informative and entertaining.

In Australia Channel Nine copped a lambasting for their Olympic coverage and deservedly so, it was worse than mediocre. Fox Sports gave its viewers a choice of sports to watch with dedicated channels which was great, but unfortunately sometimes they were stuck with the same presenters as Channel 9. How is it we see so many stations allowing presenters to appear on other stations?

The ABC put their hand up to cover the Paralympics and while the commentary was first class the presentation as a whole was disappointing. Having returned from the Games and tuned in for the last two days the gulf between this coverage and what had been on offer in the UK was immense. Why were certain states in Australia subjected to delayed telecasts of live events? Why were we watching three nobodies in the studio who knew absolutely nothing about sport rabbitting on when a live event was actually taking place? One wonders how Stephanie Brantz survived having to work with people with no presenting skills and no sports knowledge, one felt sorry for her and only hopes that she was rewarded appropriately.

The question is why is it in Australia that the television stations seem to think events such as the Paralympics and the Olympic games need “entertainers” as part of the presentation? Surely the sport itself is entertainment enough.

Understandably coverage has to be given to home grown athletes, but if you are going to cross to a medal ceremony, please don’t cut back to the studio when the Australian has received their bronze or silver medal, as some of us may like to see who actually won the event. This is supposed to be a multicultural country, and some new arrivals and some long term Australians may also be moved to see their former homelands medal and that flag being raised.

Both of these Games only come around every four years, and there are so many great stories at both events; stories of achievement, overcoming the odds, outstanding effort, heartbreak and many more. The Games will tell a story of their own. The way the two games were presented this time around one almost felt short-changed, as viewers missed so much while having to endure the inane mutterings of supposed entertainers and people with little or no knowledge of the sport they were commentating on. The backlash from social media emphatically backed up the public’s view that this was not acceptable.

One would hope that the station heads will have pored over the comments and realise that when the same point has been raised frequently, take on board that maybe they got that part of their presentation wrong. It would also be hoped that the Communications Minister and his department will have been monitoring the comments that the Government-funded ABC received and will be discussing their performance with them. Hopefully asking for some justification of sending non-sporting identities to London to cover such an important event. This is probably wishful thinking, but it should happen.

People have started to speak up for what they want and it appears that they will no longer accept mediocrity. Australia has proved in so many sports that it can present top class quality coverage. That is why it is important that events that are only held every four years are broadcast to those same high standards, it is what the public and the athletes deserve. There should definitely be no delayed telecasts!

Fingers crossed that in four years time lessons will have been learned and we can all enjoy an outstanding presentation of the Paralympic and Olympic Games.

September 10, 2012 at 3:56 pm Leave a comment

The Power of the Games

Martine Wright the 39 year old sitting volleyball competitor for Great Britain at the London Paralympic Games journey to the games has been one that has attracted much media attention. Ms Wright is a survivor of the July 7 bombings in London. She was sat six feet away from one of the suicide bombers on the train between Liverpool Street and Aldgate and had to have both legs amputated.

Yet it was while she was at home during her recovery that she tuned into the Beijing Paralympics and became inspired. With Team GB’s sitting volleyball team practising just down the road from where she went for her rehabilitation she decided to give it a go, and in London she fulfilled her dream and became a Paralympian for Great Britain an honour that no one can ever take away!

September 8, 2012 at 12:44 am Leave a comment

A Tough Road to Success

Sebastian Rodriguez won his 13th Paralympic medal in the S5 50m Freestyle, but his achievement received very little acknowledgment, as his past is a little better know in his home land than his current feats.

in 1985 Rodriguez was sentenced to 84 years in prison following his part in the murder of a Spanish businessman. While on hunger strike in prison he lost both of his legs, having gone 432 days without food, and in 1994 he was released. The reason being under Spanish law the seriously ill should not be kept in Prison. In 2007 he received a Government pardon.

He has certainly had a different route to success at the Paralympic Games and one can’t help feeling that some Hollywood director may seize on his story and tell it in film.

September 8, 2012 at 12:43 am Leave a comment

Attitude Change the Next Step

Sir Philip Craven, President of the International Paralympic Committee believes that the 2012 Paralympic Games will be a giant step forward in a change in attitude towards disability sport.

There is no doubt the games have captured the imagination of the British public, some who were wary that this was an acceptably packaged event that was exploiting people with disabilities, something it most definitely is not.

2.5 million tickets have been sold and the crowd has cheered every athlete with an enthusiasm that would be hard to match anywhere in the world, the level lifting however another few decibels for their own home-grown athletes.

Maybe it is Britain’s involvement in a war that they do not understand and witnessing their brave soldiers returning with limbs missing, that has helped the Paralympics gain acceptance, which is ironic when you consider that Ludwig Guttman encouraged war veterans with spinal injuries after World War Two to play sport, and from that came the Stoke Mandeville Games and then the Paralympics.

According to Sir Philip the challenge is going to be building on the legacy of London 2012. ” To make sure this is a legacy for the next 20 years we have to get it right. The fundamental requirement is a change in attitude and that is what will happen on the back of these games. I am confident that it will happen.” He has said.

In fact his thoughts are backed up in two polls in the UK. Both asking the same question in different ways whether these games had changed people’s attitude to disability, one was tracking at 56% the other at 86%, but both very positive that we are moving in the right direction.

However Sir Philip admits that there is still plenty of work to be done “There is a job to do now for organisations like the British Paralympic Association to educate all sports clubs that Paralympic sport is so similar to Olympic sport, with one or two slight differences.”

Australia has a long way to go in this respect, the paltry coverage in the Australian and West Australian newspapers is quite simply embarrassing. The lack of Australian media -The ABC excepted – at the games is obvious in comparison to the other nations in the top ten on the medal table.

Yet the problem runs deeper than that when the very organisations at which many of our top Paralympic athletes have scholarships to train and help them prepare for the Paralympics have been slow to promote these same athletes. The question is were they as slow to bask in the Glory of their Olympic successes? Knowing how few of these there were one would have thought they would have jumped at the chance to justify their existence, but then again there may be a certain amount of guilt about the way these athletes are treated. For example at one organisation the wheelchair athletes are unable to utilise the state-of-the-art gymnasium because there are only stairs to access it and no lifts!

Sir Philip Craven is right, attitudes must change and this sport loving nations needs to show the media and the sporting bodies of Australia that Sport really is for all. Maybe then we will truly be a great sporting nation

September 7, 2012 at 10:24 pm 1 comment

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