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The Paralympic Games is probably the only place in the world where you can be discriminated against for being able-bodied.

As soon as the Games began, we had the first example of this.

Australia's Jess Gallagher planned to take part in a number of events, including the sprints and long jump, and had hopes of gold, but they were dashed when she was told she could see too much.

This really is the one place where you could be devastated by being told that your sight was better than you thought it was.

Continue reading "When ability is a disability"

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It's been something of a holy grail here to try to find 'ordinary Chinese disabled people', to discover just how these Paralympics are likely to influence their lives, and, by implication, improve them.

It's always in danger of being a patronising search. After all, would you like to be described as an ordinary British disabled person? It's meaningless. I've been as guilty of it as anyone else. It's called 'demand from home', but I hope my conversation with Mr Jung and his wife on Thursday's You and Yours manages to tip-toe round most of the traps.

The point about Mr and Mrs Jung is that they are contented. Mr Jung contracted polio as a child - he either uses crutches or a wheelchair, depending on circumstance. He works as a translator for a water authority. They have a wide circle of friends, they go out for meals from time to time.

Continue reading "Trying to uncover the Paralympic legacy"


The pattern of the Beijing Paralympics is already set, and ParalympicsGB seems likely to achieve success in the same areas as their Olympic predecessors.

So with three cycling and one swimming gold after the first day, what is it about these sports which has shot Britain to prominence in areas where we had formerly struggled? And how does Paralympics provision compare with Olympic provision?

Make no mistake, this success, with this level of consistency, is about money.

It is lottery funding, channelled through UK Sport, which is designed to meet the athletes day-to-day living costs so that they can concentrate full-time on their sport, and provide the money that allows them to train, travel and compete to bring them to their peak at exactly the right time.

Continue reading "How funding leads to Paralympic success"

Hi I'm Peter White and I feel that if I go to the Chinese capital any more often I'll qualify for a Beijing bus-pass.

This will be my fourth visit in four years, all because a World Service producer started a radio programme for blind people in Beijing. It was based on In Touch, the programme I present for blind people on Radio 4.

This will be my fourth Paralympics. My first taste of covering the games was in Atlanta and was something of a disaster; we tried to cover it with four people at a games which was easily the worst organised I've ever been to.

It's got better since then and the broadcasting team has got bigger.

I'm covering the Beijing Paralympics for You and Yours on Radio 4 but what you find at these events is everybody does a bit of everything, so I could well be cropping up on news programmes and even, who knows, on the telly.

I was in Beijing earlier this year and was particularly interested in how the Chinese team proposed to better their performance in Athens where they had almost twice as many gold medals as their nearest rivals, Great Britain.

On a visit to a brand-new Paralympic training centre the answer became clear; their athletes have fantastic facilities and they live where they train for months at a time.

The most intriguing question is can Britain manage to finish second for the third Paralympics in a row?

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