I stayed up late to watch the Paralympics Opening Ceremony on the telly last night. A tad schmaltzy (to put it mildly), but it certainly pushed the spectacular spectacle buttons. To my mind, at least, the Paralympics represent something a lot closer to the “spirit of sport” than the Olympics, and I’ll be following the Games as much as I can. Not having digital tv, I’ll be a tad disadvantaged as I’ll miss the live coverage on ABC2, but ABC1 will be showing a highlights package at 6pm and 11pm every night which can also be streamed on demand from Iview. I’m happy to do a bit of Paralympics blogging from time to time if folks are interested.
One thing that disappointed me about the coverage of the Sydney Paralympics was the way camera angles were used to implicitly normalise the athletes’ bodies (people in chairs were shot in interviews from above the waist, and arm amputees often from above the shoulder!) and the endless repetition of certain super-crip “overcoming adversity!” narratives in commentary. Although that does have the unintended advantage of crowding out some of the hyper-nationalism stuff that disfigures the Olympics! I’m hoping there’s been some progress in both the willingness to represent difference openly and in appreciating elite athletes as elite athletes in the intervening eight years. Incidentally, many are that in a different sense from Olympic athletes – it’s not uncommon for Paralympians to switch from say, swimming to athletics, and you’ll find that there are a lot of athletes who’ve participated in multiple sports, and even some who compete in both Winter and Summer Paralympics.
I’m also not sure what the funding differential (if any) is in Australia, but there’s some coverage in the New York Times which suggests it’s a big problem in the States. It would be nice if some of the “OMG! Britain beat us! Let’s spend more dosh!” dosh goes the way of the Australian Paralympic Committee. Finally, I’d like to point to the fact that the Australian Paralympians have their own YouTube channel, and over the fold, I’ve embedded a promo package and an interview with Australian leg amputee sprinter and long jumper Christine Wolf.