Blogs (Paralympics)

London 2012 is a huge opportunity for Paralympic Movement, claims Deighton

By Tom Degun

Tom DegunWhatever Paul Deighton decides to do following the conclusion of the London 2012 Olympic and Paralympic Games, the chief executive of the Organising Committee will not be left struggling to dramatically to find gainful employment.

After all, given the enormous scale of the task at hand and the catastrophe that would meet any big failure, Deighton has guided the London 2012 ship through turbulent waters apparent ease.

Indeed, it has been almost irritating for journalists waiting for something "juicy" to go wrong; instead some frustrated hacks are left to resort to blowing things like temporary glitches during the Olympic ticket sale process grossly out of proportion.

Esther Vergeer, unbeaten wheelchair tennis queen of nine years, is ready for a London 2012 gold before she retires from play

By Tom Degun

10077-she-may-be-a-veteran-but-balding-still-daunted-by-leading-coverage-of-london-2012-paralympics-Although it is a title of such huge prestige, Dutch wheelchair tennis star Esther Vergeer (pictured) has truly earned the right to be called the most dominant player in professional sports.

The 30 year old from the Netherlands has unbelievably remained unbeaten in her last 452 singles wheelchair tennis matches in an unprecedented winning streak that goes right back to January 2003.

The legendary streak has seen her pick up every major title in the sport, including each of the four Grand Slams (the Australian Open, the French Open, Wimbledon and the US Open) on numerous occasions in both singles and doubles.

British Paralympic star Ben Rushgrove on how making the perfect cuppa has everything to do with London 2012 success

By Mike Rowbottom

Mike Rowbottom_17-11-11Britons, famously, are obsessed with a nice cup of tea. Miss Jane Marple. She liked nothing better than a nice cup of tea. Apart from solving gruesome murders, that is. And Boy George. He liked tea better than sex, or at least he once said he did before it turned out that he preferred heroin more than anything.

When Ben Rushgrove, Britain's Paralympic and International Paralympic Committee (IPC) world 100 metre silver medallist, starts talking about a nice cup of tea, or more accurately a good cup of tea, it soon becomes clear that he is talking about more than just a cup of tea.

No, of course he's not talking about murder. Or heroin. He's talking about...well, why not let him explain?

She may be a veteran but Balding still daunted by leading coverage of London 2012 Paralympics

By Tom Degun

Tom Degun_Innsbruck_2012_1It was back in January 2010 when it was announced that Channel 4 would broadcast the London 2012 Paralympic Games in a deal worth more than £5 million ($7 million/€6 million). The news came as a shock to most, particularly given that the BBC had shown every Paralympic Games since 1980 and invested several million pounds into promoting disability sport.

However, it was explained that the Channel 4 deal would provide the event and Paralympic sport the strongest pre-Games and Games-time broadcast coverage ever, as well as more marketing support than it had received before in the UK. Channel 4 has so far emphatically delivered on their promise with a number of Paralympic programmes, including "That Paralympic Show" and "Best of British", having proved hugely successful.

Two hundred days to go and counting...

By Tim Hollingsworth

tim hollingsworth_10-02-12As the calendar moved in to 2012, everyone involved in the incredible project that is the London 2012 Olympic and Paralympic Games could not help but feel the excitement and intensity of what is ahead of us rise up a notch or two.

Since January 1 the year has been notable for a number of milestones being reached – perhaps for some it feels like every day marks some element in their preparations.

Today is a particularly special one however for everyone involved in the Paralympic Movement. It marks 200 days to go to the start of the London 2012 Paralympic Games.

Blake hopes the force will be with him at London 2012

By Katy Anderson

images-Katy Anderson1-145x145David Rudisha, the 800-metre world record holder, is Paul Blake's athletics inspiration.

That's because he's run 1min 41.01sec, right? Well...not entirely, because IPC world 400m champion Blake – an 800m world record holder in his own right and a world silver medallist over 800m and 1500m – respects Rudisha as much, if not more, for his 45.50 personal best for the one-lap event.

Blake is now working to reduce his own 400m time in a bid to succeed over 400m and 800m at this year's London 2012 Paralympic Games: "From a practical perspective I think it's better for me to focus on the 400m and the 800m rather than mixing in the 1500m," he says. "I find it quite difficult to balance between three events because different sessions (speed versus endurance) need different focus and recovery."

Sailing stars Rickham and Birrell are ready for the biggest year of their lives

By Tom Degun

Tom Degun_in_GuadjalaraAs we enter the year of 2012, the eyes of the world's elite disability sporting talent are understandably fixed on August 29 to September 9, the date when the London Paralympic Games will captivate the globe.

Before those Games take place, though, there is the small matter of getting to them in the best possible shape and for many of Britain's top Paralympic sailors that means competing the 2012 International Association for Disabled Sailing (IFDS) World Championships.

This year the competition will take place at the picturesque Laishley Park Marina in Florida and for Alexandra Rickham, one of Britain's top London 2012 medal prospects, the competition is all about getting ready for the Paralympic sailing event on the waters of Weymouth Bay.

Why sport, not disability, must be the prime focus of the London 2012 Paralympics

By Tim Hollingsworth

Abraham Lincoln once said: "Public seTim Hollingsworth_head_and_shouldersntiment is everything. With it nothing can fail. Without it, nothing can succeed."  That's a pretty good message for anyone thinking now about how to approach using the 2012 Olympic and Paralympic Games in order to raise the profile of issues or affect change.

It certainly came to mind for me and many of my colleagues last weekend, when the disability charity Scope published research into public attitudes to the London Paralympic Games. The claims made suggested there was genuine concern that the Games would not provide the right platform for disabled people either to be involved, engaged or inspired.  From that was extrapolated a view that scrapping a separate games in favour of combining with the Olympics was preferable – not a view I agree with at all.

What the survey did highlight was the fact that disability groups up and down the country will undoubtedly see 2012 as an opportunity to further their aims for equality and inclusion.  I should absolutely state that this is an ambition that the British Paralympic Association (BPA) completely shares.  The argument I have is about messaging and focus, not ambition.   To go back to Lincoln's dictum, we need to make sure that any arguments put forward can capture public sentiment.

The remarkable Baroness Grey-Thompson could teach Sepp Blatter a thing or two

By Alan Hubbard

Alan Hubbard_22-11-11I am not sure if Tanni Grey-Thompson has ever met Sepp Blatter – or  even desires to do so – but I would like to be the proverbial fly on the wall should they ever have a conversation which embraces the FIFA poobah's growing list of apparent prejudices.

Slippery Sepp – hard to say whether he or the Houdini of Twickenham, Rob Andrew, has the thicker coating of Teflon – is not unfamiliar with isms.

His current misadventure with racism was famously preceded by a chauvinistic flirtation with sexism when he suggested that women's football would be more aesthetically appealing if players wore kit that revealed rather more flesh ("tighter shorts and low cut shirts"). As befits a bloke who once rejoiced in the role of President of the Society for the Preservation of the Suspender.

Mosher prepared for uphill task to get Para-snowboarding in the Games

By Mike Rowbottom

Mike RowbottomWhen a 15-year-old adaptive snowboarder, Zach Beaumont, was chosen to light the torch at BC Place during the Opening Ceremony of the 2010 Winter Paralympic Games in Vancouver (pictured, below), it showcased a sport with a swiftly growing following in Canada - and one with commensurately growing hopes of inclusion at the next Paralympics in Sochi 2014.

At the other end of the 2010 Vancouver Paralympics, the International Paralympic Committee's (IPC) chief executive, Xavier Gonzalez, acknowledged interest in additional events for Sochi 2014 and said he expected to receive submissions from groups championing adaptive snowboarding, standing hockey, bobsleigh and luge, and long-track speed skating.

Tim Hollingsworth shows he is very much ready to lead the BPA through the most important period in their history

By Tom Degun

Tom_Degun_head_and_shouldersIt is no exaggeration to say that when Tim Hollingsworth was officially announced as the chief executive of the British Paralympic Association (BPA) on May 5 this year, it was the most significant appointment in the history of Paralympic sport in the United Kingdom.

The announcement in May followed a rather bizarre chain of events that saw the former occupant of the role - Phil Lane - suddenly quit with immediate effect on February 28, 2011 after 10 years in charge of the organisation.

The shock resignation of Lane was a major blow after he had been Chef de Mission of Britain's Paralympic team at the last four Paralympic Games, led them to second-placed finishes in the medal tables at both Athens 2004 and Beijing 2008 and overseen the unprecedented growth of disabiltiy sport in the UK over the last decade.

Great Scott looks to continue his ascent

By Katy Anderson

Katy Anderson(1)Scott Moorhouse was working in telecommunications when his boss heard a radio promotion for a Paralympics GB Talent Day in London and gave him the day off to go along.

He stood out from the crowd on that occasion and was selected to progress in a number of sports, including cycling, rowing and wheelchair basketball, but it was athletics that inspired him.

He's now ranked second in the world in the F42 javelin with a lifetime best mark of 47.33 metres and has deferred his final year of university in Essex to focus on the London 2012 Paralympics.

Decision to allow Pistorius to compete against able-bodied athletes a "complete farce" claims leading sports scientist

By Mike Rowbottom

Mike Rowbottom(1)
As multiple Paralympic champion Oscar Pistorius, named in the South African team for the IAAF World Championships starting in Daegu later this month, prepares to race against able-bodied athletes for the first time in a championship setting, a fellow South African sports scientist is insisting, regretfully, that he should not be allowed to do so.

Dr Ross Tucker, a senior lecturer with the University of Cape Town's Exercise Science and Sports Medicine Department, has offered insidethegames a new analysis of the Court of Arbitration for Sport's (CAS) decision in May 2008 to allow Pistorius to compete against able-bodied runners, something he says was "a complete farce".

Tucker also feels that Pistorius, who runs on carbon fibre blades known as Cheetahs, is benefiting from technological advances similar to those in Formula One motor racing.

Nick Beighton is not just a survivor, he is a competitor

By Mike Rowbottom

Mike Rowbottom(1)The impending World Rowing Championships in Bled, Slovenia will draw together the very finest of oarsmen and oarswomen. But it is hard to think that any will have as compelling a motivation as Britain's debutant in the adaptive TA mixed double scull - Captain Nick Beighton of the Royal Engineers.

On October 5, 2009, Beighton lost both legs, and very nearly his life, when he stepped on an explosive device while serving in Afghanistan's notorious Helmand Province. So now that he finds himself - in tandem with Samantha Scowen - challenging for world, and, he hopes, Paralympic honours in the course of the next 14 months, he is driven by an irresistibly vital force.

"London is a unique opportunity to show the world what we're made of" says Greaves

By Katy Anderson
Katy_Anderson_thumb_medium130_265It's testament to the progress of Paralympic sport when an athlete admits his dream is no longer to compete in the Olympic Games, but to dominate in the Paralympic Games; it's a little known fact, too, that three-time World Champion and F44 discus world record holder Dan Greaves once competed internationally for Great Britain and Northern Ireland in a non-disabled competition, fuelling his ambition and desire to represent Team GB on the greatest stage of all.

So what changed? "I think it stemmed from my disappointment in the Beijing Paralympics in 2008," says Greaves, who has finished on the podium in each of the last three Games, winning gold at Athens in 2004.

"Up until then my dream had been to compete in the Olympics but my bread and butter event (1.5kg weight discus) was being jeopardised by my focus on the 2kg weight (the Olympic weight implement). I realised it was more important to me to be able to dominate at Paralympic level but to still enjoy opportunities to compete as a guest in non-disabled events when they came along."