What I Would Rather be Watching in London This Year

London has all the major international sporting athletes and attention descending on it in under 200 days, for two weeks of intense sporting competition equal to nothing in depth and breadth. The 2012 London Olympic Games begin in just 126 days, running for two weeks from the 27th of July-12th of August at and in the vicinity of historic English sites. Our prospects look better than they did just 12 months ago with some of our swimmers putting in very strong performances at the Australian Swimming Championships which came to an end last night in Adelaide. Other athletes in different sports, including Sally Pearson in athletics also add to medal promise of our Australian Olympic team.

But it is our Paralympic athletes in the pool that I will be watching when the Paralympics commence in London in only 159 days at the same venues as their Olympic counterparts. Our swimmers with a disability have shown over the past week of competition that they have what it takes to not only win more gold medals, but to also break more world records in the process.

Over the whole Australian Swimming Championships, Paralympic hopefuls broke an astonishing 25 world records in striving to make the team for the London 2012 Paralympic Games. How many did our Olympic athletes achieve? Zip, donuts. That’s not to say that our Olympic medal prospects are bad, they are not. The men’s team has strengthened much over the 4 years since the last Olympics from China, with stars like James Magnussen agonisingly close to achieving world-beating times and our men’s and women’s relay teams looking as strong as ever.

It will however be our Elite Athletes with a Disability that lead the way in London in the “real Olympics” with 25 world records surely converting into a gold medal in at least a bare majority of these events come the Paralympics later this year.

Our swimmers to compete in the Games are far from household names and they should have at least been mentioned in a breath of news coverage of the disastrous comeback campaigns of the likes of Ian Thorpe et al. Names to watch include Matthew Cowdrey, Prue Watt, Ellie Cole, Michael Anderson, Kayla Clarke, Jacqueline Freney and Blake Cochrane to name just some of our gold, let alone broader medal hopes.

These swimmers will now head back to the pool after perhaps a short break to refresh and refocus their minds on the big task of stepping up another level in London in just months. They will go in knowing that if they keep their focus and training is maintained and they stay injury-free that their chances are very strong of replicating the amazing efforts over the last week and a bit that have gone disgracefully unreported as is unfortunately the case on a too regular basis. I know I would rather watch our Paralympic swimmers, but I love the sport, so I will be watching both, hoping that our Olympic swimmers really do show up to compete and smash the world. The difference is, with our Paralympians, I don’t need to hope.

About Tom Bridge

A perennial student of politics, providing commentary for money and for free. Email me at tbridgey@gmail.com or contact me on 0435 035 095 for engagements.

Posted on March 23, 2012, in A little bit of sport, Disability Issues and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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