Eine Kleine Nichtmusik

Witty and pertinent observations on matters of great significance OR Incoherent jottings on total irrelevancies OR Something else altogether OR All of the above

Monday, September 15, 2008

Staying with the sporting theme

There is daily coverage on the BBC at present of the 2008 Paralympics from Beijing. As with the able-bodied version, Britain are doing well in the pool and on the velodrome track, and in fact are lying second to the host nation in the medals table. There's certainly a lot of action, what with South Africa's double amputee Oscar Pistorius going for the 100m/200m/400m treble, or Canada's Chantal Petitclerc setting three world records in a single day yesterday (200m wheelchair heats, 200m wheelchair final, 800m wheelchair final). Or Britain's 13-year-old Ellie Simmonds adding to her 100m freestyle swimming gold by axeing seven seconds from the 400m freestyle record. (The Dutch silver medallist, a mere four seconds inside the old record, has a daughter Ellie's age.) There is controversy, as with the race re-run after the medals had been handed out; or the one almost re-run because there had been three different lane draws published for it. Or cruellest of all, the British competitor in shot and discus who first of all had her disability reclassified from a general catch-all class to cerebral palsy, and then after she'd won the discus with a new world record throw was reclassified again as no longer sufficiently disabled to be eligible to compete at all.

(On a note of inappropriate levity, I suddenly remembered the bit in Monty Python's Life Of Brian where Brian cures someone of leprosy, or palsy or whatever, and gets roundly abused for removing his livelihood as a crippled beggar.)

Hilary tells me that when the Commonwealth Games were in Edinburgh in 1966 they were followed by the then fairly new "paraplegic games". Hilary and her cousins went to see some of the latter, and reckoned that at both the pool and the athletics track they were part of an audience of maybe ten people. It's truly astonishing how the profile of sport for the disabled has been raised in my lifetime. OK, people still joke about "wheelchair springboard diving", or "wheelchair hurdles", but the Paralympics get a decent TV audience. And after watching a session of wheelchair basketball, or tennis, or rugby (the last of these used to be called "Murderball") you wonder whether there's anything too unlikely to be true. (Wheelchair rugby is like Robot Wars with men - and women, it's a mixed sport - in armoured wheelchairs in place of the robots. Britain plays defending champs the USA next. Watch out, America.)

Coverage in the newspapers has been fairly scant though, and apart from the BBC none of the sport channels seem to be carrying the Paralympics. Maybe the BBC has an exclusive coverage deal. What's the coverage like in the USA and Canada?


At 16 September, 2008 00:01, Blogger Persephone said...

CBC had exclusive coverage of the Olympics, and is covering the para-Olympics quite extensively, though mostly on weekends. (CBC is big on sports for much-need ratings and revenue. As a result, despite being a co-producer for Doctor Who, it's only getting to Season Four this week -- well out of the way of the Stanley Cup and the Olympics.) We get the local paper and the one of the national papers and both are giving the games priority in their sports sections.

At 16 September, 2008 14:03, Blogger JoeinVegas said...

Haven't heard anything about it in the US. Nothing in the papers or tv that I have seen.


Post a Comment

<< Home