Providing a real insight into Paralympics coverageSeptember 4, 2012 - 7:00am
Sport, in any code, is addictive for many reasons – but none moreso than the fact that it provides the forum for someone to triumph against the odds. And that is never truer than at the Paralympics.
Because behind ever medal is a story of guts as well as glory; the story of an athlete who has defied the odds – be they from birth or following tragedy – to prove that ability can always trump disability if you have the determination to see it through.
That’s not to patronise Paralympians – far from it, because they are truly inspirational people whose ability to perform at the highest level is nothing short of incredible. It is to explain why the television coverage of the Games is uplifting and addictive in equal measure.
The fact that these Games have sold millions of tickets is the clearest indication that this is not just some parallel sporting event, because people don’t watch sport or television out of sympathy.
Equally the organisers – who may well be exhausted still after the effort and success of the Olympics – have ensured that the Paralympics are just as big an occasion as their predecessor.
The difference might be that the best coverage this time isn’t on the BBC – although it does look like their broadcasting team has decamped en masse to Channel 4 – but, apart from the channel number, nothing else has changed.
Claire Balding was the shining star of the BBC’s Olympic coverage and she is shaping up to repeat that feat at her new home; Jonathan Edwards too brings calm comment and analysis to proceedings and Jon Snow filled the Huw Edwards role to perfection during Thursday’s spectacular opening ceremony.
But the early gold medallist on the experts’ couch was one of our own; Daraine Mulvihill may lack experience but – sitting alongside Edwards – she certainly isn’t short of confidence or ability, and she will be a star of the small screen on one or both sides of the Irish Sea for many years to come.
Daraine was already well known here; the daughter of former GAA boss Liam Mulvihill, she lost both of her legs below the knee – along with one of her arms – after almost succumbing to a life-threatening strain of meningitis.
For more, read this week's Connacht Sentinel.