Here's my quick guide to the London Paralympic Games. If this is the only
thing you read I swear you will know enough to enjoy it.
Skip the swimming
This is only the second time the Paralympic Games will go to air live in
Australia, with the ABC showing over eight hours of live competition every
day. Tune it at 7pm each night for the morning's competition. Make a cuppa
while the swimming is on because it's not that interesting and you'll catch
it all in the highlights anyway.
Watch the murderball
Definitely watch the wheelchair rugby. The Australian team, including the
unstoppable Ryley Batt, will be out to beat the Americans after losing the
gold medal match to them in Beijing. These guys are tough and all that
crashing and banging into each other makes for a great spectator sport.
Note the back-to-backers
There are a few athletes competing in London who back up for the winter
Games. I wonder when they ever spend time at home? Our own Jess Gallagher
won a bronze medal skiing at the 2010 Vancouver Paralympic Games and, if
her form continues, she could be the first Australian athlete ever
to medal at a winter and summer Games, a feat I have yet to achieve. Watch
out for her in the javelin and the long jump.
Eyes on the Canberrans
Canberra is well represented including Sue Powell, a good medal chance in
the cycling and third-time Paralympian Louise Ellery, competing in shot put
and club throw, debutante Scott Reardon in the 100m and 200m and veterans
Richard Nicholson, competing in his fifth Games and Hamish McDonald, taking
on his sixth.
Cheer on inclusive South Africa
In the pool the amazing Natalie du Toit is retiring. She debuted at the
2002 Commonwealth Games and was the first amputee to qualify for the
Olympic Games when she raced in the 10km swim. In London she will compete
in seven events, hoping to increase her current tally of ten Paralympic
gold medals. Her countryman Oscar Pistorius, the "Blade Runner", backs up
after running at the Olympic Games. He is out to defend his three Beijing
titles, including the 100m, although the opposition will be tough to beat.
American Jerome Singleton is the current world champion and Britain's
Jonnie Peacock lowered the world record to 10.85secs in June. Interesting
that South Africa is the world's leading light when it comes to inclusion!
Check out some unfamiliar sports
I've played sitting volleyball. It's not easy but it is action-packed and
fast. This sport has a real legacy in rehabilitating people who've had
their legs blown off by bombs and landmines. It's still dominated by
volleyball-mad countries like Brazil and Russia but it's good to see Rwanda
fielding a team for the first time. You could also have a look at 5-a-side
football which is played by vision-impaired athletes using a ball with a
bell inside. Take some time to check out the back stories of some of the
Don't worry about the classification system
Paralympic athletes are classified according to their functional abilities.
There are loads of classifications, they are complicated and they vary
between sports. Remember that, especially in swimming, different
classifications may be combined in the same race. Listen to the commentary,
don't worry too much about it and just enjoy the competition. The
individual sports like athletics, cycling and swimming are the most
confusing so, if it all gets too much, watch team sports like wheelchair
basketball or rugby instead.