The Paralympic games – where’s the hype?

22 Aug

Mo Farah, Jessica Ennis and Chris Hoy to name but a few have already become household names and legends in British hearts but how many of you, as readers, can claim to know where you’ve heard the names Oscar Pistorious or Ellie Simmonds before?

After the wealthy medal haul Team GB achieved during this year’s flamboyantly hosted London Olympic games we can stand back proudly and say ’good job,’ but with 7 days to go until the London 2012 Paralympics get into full swing it’s difficult to see British people just as enthusiastic about our next set of home-soil hosted games.

Following a statement from Lord Coe suggesting that tickets sales had got off to a healthy start with speculations of a sell-out for the first time in Olympic history, in addition to the fact that this shall be the first time that Britain has ever accommodated the Paralympic games, the UK should be a hub of anxious excitement. The Paralympic torch relay is by now in full flow and there is already an absence of half as many photographs which were splattered over local and national newspapers during the Olympic torch relay. Is it merely a case of being bored of the hype surrounding London 2012 or have the Paralympics simply been neglected as the ‘support act’?

This summer, around 4,000 paralympic athletes from 160 countries will be competing for gold in London. At the Beijing games, the Team GB Paralymians saw themselves take away 42 gold medals, a huge achievement and this year they have set themselves a target of 43, not far off doubling what our Team GB Olympians achieved this year. In addition to this just as the Royal Mail issued individual first class stamps for the Great British Olympic gold medallists over a week ago, they announced they will be doing the same for British Paralympians continuing to paint post boxes gold too with every win. This is the first time ever that that a set of stamps have been issued to celebrate Paralympic glory from the host country. It should do wonders for the publicity of the games (you’d hope.)

However, my doubts continue to loom… Is it any wonder that doubts are present when unlike the Olympic Games which were screened so proficiently by the BBC, our public service broadcaster, the Paralympics will be shown by the commercial broadcaster, Channel 4 who managed to lose the interest of many of its viewers during their screening of the 2011 World Athletic Championships? Who wants adverts in the middle of a 100m sprint or during the climax of the medal ceremony?

If we want the Paralympics to be on an equally level playing field, if we want them to be equally as absorbing as the Olympics and if we want to capture the attention of visiting tourists and our own population alike, to show pride as the host nation, we should be broadcasting the Paralympics on the BBC not hiding them behind three terrestrial channels.

In Britain, the Olympians and Paralympians will celebrate their joint successes together in a parade throughout London on 10, September 2012 the day following the closing of the Paralympic games. While this joint endeavour aims to revive the view that the Olympics and Paralympics should merge in one combined festival of sport, I question why we are sending such mixed messages not only to the people of Britain but to the world as well.

We should be proud of our countries achievements, when we have soldiers going to war losing limbs and their lives for an unjust war, for this reason we should also be embracing the abilities of Paralympians who have overcome many hurdles to not only compete on such a huge platform but also to achieve beyond expectations.

 Source(s): London 2012, BBC, Channel 4

Photograph(s): BBC, Channel 4, Google, London 2012

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