Andrea Cunsolo writes:
That Paralympic Show is part of Channel 4’s drive to promote the London 2012 Paralympic Games. It’s a ten week magazine series hosted by T4’s Rick Edwards and wheelchair basketball Paralympic medallist and presenter, Ade Adepitan. The show is filmed on different locations every week, exploring both the athletes’ training grounds and their particular sport, with presenters Rick and Ade often being joined by celebrities who are given the chance to compete in Paralympic themed games, challenges which include taking part in events such as Paralympic sailing, rowing and wheelchair tennis.
The show has a radical stance compared to the more conventional one used by past broadcasters, and sends out a clear message to viewers. Why the Paralympics has hitherto failed to capture the nation’s imagination is a question for debate, but it is worth noting that in this show the producers have focussed not on the athletes’ disabilities but on their dedication, skills and will to win, and this may be what is needed to capture the public’s imagination. It seems likely that the series will turn Paralympics gold medal winners, David Weir, Lee Pearson and Sarah Storey into household names, an achievement only managed so far by South African ‘blade runner’, Oscar Pistorius and our own Dame Tanni Grey-Thompson.
Watch That Paralympic Show as well for information on the technological breakthroughs being made in disability sport: Paralympian Jody Cundy tests his paracycling skills to the maximum by visiting a wind tunnel to see just how fast he is with a carbon fibre race leg and race bike compared to a race bike and prosthetic leg from the 1920s; Oscar Pistorius is interviewed about his ambition to compete at the Olympic Games using his radical new prosthesis.
This last raises a controversial issue: where do we draw the line that determines whether or not a ‘Paralympic’ athlete can compete with an ‘Olympic’ one? In the mean time, I encourage people to sample Channel 4’s Paralympics broadcasting. It displays a pure, exciting and elite form of athletics.