Paralympic athletes show us the way
From the extraordinary performances by the athletes to the brilliant coverage by the ABC, the Paralympics have shown us the way our athletes should behave on the international stage.
I am both proud of their brave performances and embarrassed by my own behaviour when things don’t go to plan, by comparison to the humility and courage they express.
The ABC coverage has been excellent. It blends the highest levels of professionalism with a clever but never disrespectful brand of humour.
The coverage is anchored by the gorgeously ‘stern’ mother of the panel, Stephanie Brantz. She is a genuinely knowledgeable, intelligent and also highly professional television presenter.
As the required straight guy to the funny guys on the panel, Lawrence Mooney, Sam Pang and Adam Zwar, I just love her deadpan look of humorous disapproval when the boys do or say something naughty.
Lawrence, Sam and Adam have been clever, well briefed and funny, in their take on the multitude of scenarios that they are presented with.
As always Peter Collins, Gerry Collins, Quentin Hull, Peter Wilkins and Amanda Shalala have provided commentary that wreaks of a well researched and genuine knowledge of the sport they are covering.
Channel Nine’s production, commentary and hosting team should hang their heads in shame.
Their programmes have been shown to be as appalling our instinct and intuition was telling us at the time. More so, the private equity guys who now own the network, and whose massive but ill-advised investment continues to fall in value, should watch and learn.
Underestimate the audience at your peril.
But the real heroes are the athletes. The Australian wheelchair rugby team are exemplary but not unusual among their fellow athletes. They set themselves the goal of winning every quarter of every game. Nothing less than perfection would do.
Rheed McCracken, just 15-years-old, with a silver medal in the T34 100 metres and a bronze in the T34 200 metres, was more down to earth, erudite and frankly humorous than many of the precious, self centred able bodied athletes, particularly our swimmers.
But he was just one of many. Without exception, every athlete was happy with whatever medal they won. They delivered PB after PB after world record and in doing so, showed their more wealthy able bodied colleagues how to perform on the big stage when it matters.
Jacqueline Freney won eight gold medals. Before you start thinking that it is just the Paralympics, remember that you have to be in eight events, and therefore eight heats and eight finals in order to win eight gold medals.
Lets be clear – this is a super human effort.
Compare that to the ‘single event’ athletes in the able bodied Olympics.
Kurt Fearnley, now a senior member of the team, with others has been leader, counsellor and mentor.
He was clearly completely spent at the end of the tight finish in the Marathon and after competing in the 5,000, 800 and 1500 metres events. His graciousness in defeat is extraordinary.
And then there was Christie Dawes. When interviewed after the gruelling marathon and finishing out of the medals, she said “It could be worse. I could be in Syria!!!”
I have enjoyed the Paralympics immensely and remain humbled by the athletes performances.