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Olympic 2012 podcast: The Father of the Paralympics, Greg Rutherford and Usain Bolt jealousy.

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Eleanor Oldroyd Eleanor Oldroyd | 17:41 UK time, Tuesday, 21 August 2012

Libby Clegg

This year’s Paralympic Games will be the biggest ever, featuring over 4,000 athletes from 160 countries who will compete in 20 sports. What an extraordinary achievement for a movement that started in Buckinghamshire; the idea for a parallel games for disabled people was born at the Stoke Mandeville Hospital, were Dr Ludwig Guttman, a German Jewish refugee encouraged paralysed servicemen to use sport as part of their rehabilitation. In “Sunday” on BBC Radio 4, Dr Guttman’s daughter, Eva Loeffler spoke about her father’s pioneering work and what he would have made of the London Games.

Over 60 years later, thousands of athletes are busy preparing for the Paralympics. Amongst them is Libby Clegg, the blind reigning world champion of the 100m and 200m sprints, who will be going for gold at this summer’s Paralympic Games. BBC 5 Live’s Shelagh Fogarty was joined by Paralympic swimmer Mark Woods to talk to Libby Clegg about the pressures of a home crowd and the complex sprinting rules for the visually impaired.

These London Games look set to receive extraordinary coverage - Channel 4 will provide more than 150 hours of coverage while BBC Radio 5 Live and Radio 5 Live Sports Extra will offer comprehensive radio coverage. But some argue that there's one thing which has always hampered the Paralympic Games from truly taking off - the complex and arcane classification categories. They baffle sports journalists, confuse the public at large and often frustrate would be competitors as Ian Macrae discovered for "In Touch" when he spoke to para-dressage rider Nicola Naylor and Baroness Tanni Gray-Thompson.

Well it isn’t just the physical classification of Paralympians that have caused consternation but also the classification of those with intellectual disabilities. At the Sydney Games in 2000, Spain fielded a basketball team who pretended to have learning disabilities and then won the gold medal. When the scandal was uncovered, all athletes with genuine learning disabilities were excluded from future Paralympic Games while the rules were tightened. For the London Paralympics this summer, the exclusion order has finally been lifted. Claudia Hammond investigated the issue for BBC World Service’s “Inside the Paralympics” and heard from Swedish shot putter Jeffrey Ige who has waited years to become a Paralympian.

While the world prepares for the Paralympics, the Olympians are coming to terms with life after the Games including long jump champion Greg Rutherford who spoke to Luke Ashmead for BBC Three Counties about his new hectic life and his plans to become a double Olympian champion in Rio 2016.

When Jamaican sprinter Usain Bolt successfully defended his 100m and 200m titles at this year’s Olympics, he declared himself “a living legend," and the across the world fans cheered him on...with the exception of one Welsh comedian - Rhod Gilbert who shared his views with comedian Reginald D Hunter and Richard Bacon at the Edinburgh Festival.

Eleanor Oldroyd is back next Tuesday. The next BBC Olympic 2012 Podcast will be presented by BBC Olympics Correspondent Gordon Farquhar on Friday 24th August.


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