There’s One Sporting Team to Come That Won’t Need a Performance Review Nor Extra Funding to Outstrip our Olympic Team
There’s just under three weeks to go until another massive sporting event begins in London. The 2012 Paralympic Games return to the spiritual birthplace of the Paralympic movement. Australia is traditionally very strong at the Paralympic Games compared to the Olympics, with medal tallies often outstripping that of our Olympians. Some will put that down to the extra events which are necessary to accommodate the varying levels of disability. Others, like me will say that has nothing to do with it, each respective athlete still has to be able to perform on the day.
One of the strongest sports at the Paralympics for Australia, if not the strongest, is traditionally the swimming, just like it is with that other competition they call the Olympics.
Unlike the Olympic counterparts, the Australian Paralympic Swimming team are unlikely to need a soul-searching performance review complete with navel-gazing to determine what went wrong with their campaign.
There’s likely to be a gold rush to rival Victoria in the 1800′s as I’ve written before. Our collective medal haul in the pool alone, if melted down, would likely save Spain and Greece from the ignominy of default. Okay, maybe I’m embellishing just a little bit, but nonetheless our performance in the pool alone at the Paralympics is a real possibility of eclipsing the overall gold medal tally of our Olympic team which currently stands at 5 golds.
And all that before factoring in the strong possibilities of gold medals in other sports for Australia at the London Paralympics.
Our athletics team which has not under-performed by any means in the past is likely to again bring home medals, some of them gold, but also silver and bronze.
With people like relatively well-known Paralympian Kurt Fearnley competing again in London we’re sure to make a strong showing. The three time gold medallist will line up for his third Paralympic Games in an attempt to win gold in the 800m, 1500m and the marathon which Kurt has made his own.
Other track and field athletes to look out for at the Paralympics include Kelly Cartwright who broke the long jump world record for her classification in 2011 and then earlier this year broke both the 100m and 200m world records in her class. Then there’s Evan O’Hanlon who broke his own world record this year in the 100m, Jessica Gallagher who’s competed in the Winter Paralympics before and medalled in the sport and up and comers some of whom will be in with a real shot of a medal.
Then you have the wheelchair basketball with the Australian men’s team, the Rollers the defending champions from Beijing who are sure to again push the USA, Canada and the home team Great Britain for another gold medal. Not to be outdone, the women’s team who received bronze at the Paralympic Games in China will also be a good chance of another medal.
Australia also has a great chance in the wheelchair rugby, popularly known as ‘murderball’ for the rough nature of the game. The Australian team, with superstar Ryley Batt, will want to go one better on their effort at the Chinese games and win back the gold which the team won at Sydney in 2000.
Those sports alone, chiefly swimming and athletics, should easily see the gold medal tally go into double figures before sports like cycling, equestrian, powerlifting, sailing and more.
We’ll be up against it with the British hosts having plunged an astronomic amount into funding for both Paralympic and Olympic athletes, but any review won’t be raising depressing concerns about the performance of our Paralympic athletes.
It’s time to get excited Australia, with nine and a half hours of live television coverage daily to keep you happy and up to date with our teams’ exploits.
Today marks just 100 days until the event the world will be watching, no not those games starting with ‘O’ and ending in ‘pic’, but the widely known about and often reported on Paralympic Games- well, this is true in an ideal world anyway. From the 29th of August until the 9th of September the London 2012 Paralympic Games will take place in the shadow of the Olympic Games which will have ceased just a short period of time prior to the commencement of the Paralympics.
Little is known or reported about the Paralympic Games, so what’s it all about?
The Paralympic Games are open to competitors with a physical disability, including those who are visually impaired or deaf. The Paralympic Games have also included athletes with an intellectual impairment in both the 1996 and 2000 Paralympics, but these participants were excluded from both the 2004 and 2008 Paralympic Games after cheating on the part of the Spanish team particularly in the intellectually disabled basketball team. These athletes will return to the Paralympic Games in London for the first time since the Sydney 2000 Paralympics.
The London Paralympics will be the biggest to be held so far with approximately 4,200 athletes from 165 countries participating in the event and 16 of those nations will be competing for the first time in London.
The 4,200 athletes participating will compete in a total of 21 different sports, with the majority of sports included in the Paralympics also featured as Olympic sports save for some modifications to cater for differing levels of impairment.
This year athletes will compete in:
- Track and Road Cycling
- Table Tennis
- Sitting Volleyball
- Wheelchair Basketball
- Wheelchair Fencing
- Wheelchair Rugby
- Wheelchair Tennis
The sports that are unique to the Paralympics are:
- Boccia, which is similar to Bocce
- Goalball which is similar to European Handball for visually impaired participants
- Powerlifting which is Weightlifting but performed different for participants with a higher level of physical impairment
- Sitting Volleyball which is similar to regular Indoor Volleyball, but performed seated on the court
- Wheelchair Basketball which is similar to Basketball but undertaken in a wheelchair
- Wheelchair Fencing which is like regular Fencing but for people in a wheelchair
- Wheelchair Rugby which is also know as “Murderball” and involves similar play to the multiple forms of rugby but is performed indoors
- Wheelchair Tennis which is like Tennis but competitors play in a wheelchair
The Australian team is expected to do well, particularly, as has been the case historically, in swimming, athletics, wheelchair rugby and wheelchair basketball where medal prospects are traditionally very strong.
One of the best sports to watch is the swimming which sees people with a range of impairments competing in classifications with people who have similar abilities and compete in the same manner as those in the Olympics. It is amazing to see double arm amputees finish the race head first on the touch pads.
Wheelchair Rugby or “Murderball” is one of the most spectacular sports to observe that involves people in a wheelchair. This sport sees players with specially designed wheelchairs with heavy duty protection play in much the same way as rugby players but by “tackling” each other by careering into their opponents wheelchair when they are in possession of the ball. The objective, like in the rugby codes is to get the ball over a line.
Wheelchair Basketball is another brilliant sport and very similar in sheer physicality to Wheelchair Rugby and as mentioned previously is practically identical to everyday Basketball but with the added difficulty of shooting for baskets from a sitting position in a wheelchair.
BROADCASTING OF THE PARALYMPIC GAMES
The Paralympics will again be broadcast on television and radio by the Australian Broadcasting Corporation who have been a strong supporter of the Paralympics and broadcast over 120 hours of content from the previous Paralympics in Beijing in 2008. There will be some live coverage and some highlights packages as there has been previously.
Both the opening and closing ceremony will also be televised by the national broadcaster.
SO THERE’S THE BACKGROUND
So with just 100 days to go before the London 2012 Paralympic Games commence, you now have a bit of a background (presuming you didn’t prior to reading) of just what the Paralympics are about and why they are so amazing and hopefully a million more reasons to take an interest and watch or listen to some phenomenal sporting performances of the highest level.