Channel 4 reveals hi-tech graphics to help viewers' understanding of Paralympic classification
Monday, 28 May 2012
May 28 - British television broadcaster Channel 4 today unveiled a range of plans for the London 2012 Paralympics – including a revolutionary new system to explain classifications and the most extensive broadcast coverage of the Games in the United Kingdom.
Triple Paralympic gold medal-winning swimmer Giles Long has co-created the "Lexi Decoder" (LEXI, pictured top) which will explain the classifications to the public on behalf of the Games' official broadcaster.
Classifications can be confusing to audiences and the general public with athletes split between a number of categories.
These groupings include visual impairment, intellectual disability, cerebral palsy, amputation and spinal cord injury, wheelchair user and "les autres" ("all others").
Within these categories athletes are split up depending upon their levels of impairment.
For example, T11 represents a track athlete with a visual impairment with the 'T' representing track and '11' their impairment and the severity of its impact on performance.
"I first started thinking of a graphics system to explain classification in Paralympic sport after the Sydney 2000 Games," explained Long (pictured above), who claimed golds in the pool at Atlanta 1996 and Sydney 2000.
"People wanted to understand but could not in the time available, and that was having an impact on their enjoyment of the sport.
"If you are trying to explain quickly something that is very complex then you probably need a picture.
"Using figures on screen seemed the logical way to do it."
Channel 4 chief executive David Abraham said: "We have 92 days until we get underway and this is pretty much the biggest thing that Channel 4 has ever undertaken."
London 2012 chief Sebastian Coe praised Channel 4 and told the broadcaster: "You have devoted time and space and...that means we have been able to bring some really creative sponsors to the table."
Paying tribute to the new decoder, he added: "We said that alongside creating something that was different we wanted to educate, and LEXI does exactly that.
"You cannot enjoy sport if you do not understand it."
Channel 4 also announced that it would be broadcasting more than 150 hours of coverage over the 12 days of the Paralympic Games.
Multiple channels and platforms, including Channel 4, More4 and online, will show action live.
Three dedicated channels, including those in high definition, on the Sky platform will be available to viewers.
A Paralympic app, which are free to download and offer live streamings of Games coverage, is also being launched for mobile and tablet devices.
Meanwhile, half of Channel 4's roster of presenters and reporters covering the Games will be disabled, the broadcaster revealed.
Fronting its coverage of the Opening and Closing Ceremonies will be veteran news anchor Jon Snow while Jonathan Edwards, the Sydney 2000 Olympic triple jump gold medallist and double world champion, will also be involved.
Versatile broadcaster Clare Balding will front the station's coverage throughout the Games alongside former wheelchair basketball star Ade Adepitan (both pictured below).
Other notable faces will include former Paralympic swimmer Rachel Latham and Katharine Merry, a 400 metres Olympic bronze medallist from Sydney 2000.
Completing a trio of announcements, Channel 4 unveiled a sculpture outside its studios in tribute to the Paralympics.
Placed in front of the company's traditional "Big 4" design, there are three main elements to the creation by disabled sculptor and artist Tony Heaton.
It includes Discobulus, the discus thrower, a circle to represent the wheel of the international symbol of access, and gold, silver and bronze, symbolising the medal hierarchy of the Games.
"I wanted to use the structure of 'Big 4' as one of four elements that would fuse together to form a new cohesive piece – which would provoke thought and celebrate Channel 4's involvement and commitment to the Paralympics," explained Heaton.
"The subtext of the piece is the assertion that disabled people are almost always the object of scrutiny and curiosity."
March 2012: Exclusive - Leading Channel 4 Paralympic coverage will be a major challenge, admits Balding
February 2012: Clare Balding to front Channel 4 coverage of the London 2012 Paralympics
August 2011: Channel 4 drops anchor for World Athletics Championships coverage after hundreds of complaints
December 2010: Channel 4 given rap by Ofcom over Paralympic programme
August 2010: London 2012 partners to sponsor Channel 4 Paralympics coverage