I managed to catch some of ABC 2’s coverage of the Paralympic games last night, and I was really impressed with the amount of access the ABC has had to the athletes. I saw in depth interviews with Matt Cowdrey (S9 Swimmer) and Kieran Modra (vision impaired cyclist), and his pilot. Kieran in particular is totally inspirational. The guy had an accident and broke his neck about 8 months out from the Paralympics, and yet here he is, bringing home the gold in the men’s individual B pursuit. The athletes came across as down to earth, determined, and pretty damn honest. They didn’t look like they had been drilled on what to say. We didn’t just have to be satisfied with 30 second breathless interviews after their events either, so well done ABC 2 on that. The only problem is that the ‘panel’ consists of random non-sports commentators with usually one retired (or current) paralympian. I have found their banter a bit painful to watch. Let’s get to the sport, people!
So on to the sport, the Australians had a blazing first day!
Susan Powell took the individual C4 pursuit at the velodrome (while clocking a new World Record) and Kieran Modra was fastest in the men’s individual B pursuit. Jayme Paris, who I am quite fond of after seeing a feature on her on SBS Cycling Central, broke the world record in the qualifiers for the C1 5k Individual Pursuit!
Jacqueline Freney won gold in the 100m S7 backstroke and Matt Cowdrey became Australia’s most decorated Paralympian after winning silver in the 100m S9 butterfly.
It seems like our Paralympians are out there doing us proud and will bring home a significant medal haul. If winning is what matters, why aren’t these guys front and centre on a mainstream TV broadcaster, like Channel 9? If only these guys could become household names like Stephanie Rice and Cadel Evans or Anna Meares.
The event I am looking forward to most though is the wheelchair rugby. I have been fascinated with it ever since I saw the film ‘Murderball’ which is about the US Wheelchair Rugby team. It’s not really big here, so the one game that I went to was pretty tame compared to the impact and speed of International level sport.
When I was watching the events last night, I thought I needed a bit more information about the classification scheme – the commentators were not much help. I found this nice article at ABC’s website here.
The paralympics are being aired on ABC 2 in Australia and Channel 4 in the UK. Check your local guides! Don’t miss any of it!