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The Paralympians touch down...and the secrets of the sprinting blades

| 15:53 UK time, Friday, 24 August 2012

Disabled marathon runner Claire Lomas lights the Olympic cauldron for the Paralympic Games.


By 5 live Olympic correspondent Gordon Farquhar:

They’ve arrived! Over two thousand landed in the UK this week to compete in Paralympic Games and among them was the Canadian wheelchair rugby player David Willsie who showed BBC 5 live's Matt Cole his battle-scarred competition chair. Another competitor who landed at Heathrow was Jan Apel who is part of the first New Zealand sailing crew to compete in the Paralympics for 12 years. She told BBC London's Jason Rosam about her excitement that so many of the tickets had been snapped up.

A number of those in ParalympicsGB are former soldiers who were injured in Afghanistan, Iraq and other conflicts around the world. Their battle injuries dramatically changed their lives but they have rebuilt themselves to become elite sportsmen and women. Sam Bowen was hit by mortar shrapnel that severed an artery in her right leg, leaving her paralysed from the knee down. She revealed her difficulties coping with post-traumatic stress in BBC Radio 1's "Against All Odds". Vernon Kay investigated the role of coaches in the rehabilitation of those injured on the frontline when he spoke to fitness instructor Major Martin Colclough who has worked with both para-cyclist Jon-Allan Butterworth and discus thrower Derek Derenalagi.


We’ve all come to recognise the running blades made famous by Paralympians such as Oscar Pistorius but how do they work? Gareth Mitchell travelled to Germany for the BBC World Service to visit Ottobock, one of the world's leading manufacturers of carbon fibre running blades. Five times stronger than steel, each blade has 80 layers of carbon, each thinner than a human hair. These running blades have revolutionised sprinting for disabled athletes such as the German 100m sprinter Heinrich Popow who explained how he used the blades during races.

A record number of 38 Welsh sportsmen and women will compete at the Paralympics. Among them are table tennis players Sara Head and Rob Davies who spoke to Nellie Bird for BBC Good Morning Wales.

This week Olympic champion Andy Murray has been seeded third for the US Open as he continues to chase his first Grand Slam title. Another British athlete who will have to deal with the pressure at the Games is wheelchair tennis player Lucy Shuker but she told BBC Surrey that she is confident she can do well at the Paralympics in both the singles competition and in the doubles with Jordanne Whiley.

Finally this week, the flames of the Paralympic torch were lit on top of the UK's four highest mountains - Scafell Pike, England's highest peak, Slieve Donard in Northern Ireland, Snowdon in Wales and Ben Nevis in Scotland. Four groups of Scouts trekked up mountains before striking sparks to make the flames which were then placed in a miner's lanterns and brought back down on foot. Mark Simpson was the BBC Ulster correspondent at the base of the mountain and he told Good Morning Ulster’s Sarah Brett and Joel Taggart why his role was so important...but I’m not sure getting the tea on counts!

The next BBC Olympic 2012 Podcast will be presented by Eleanor Oldroyd on Tuesday 28th August.


  • Comment number 1.

    I have to say the 'main' games have certainly left an Olympics legacy of note for London and indeed the UK - definitely one that surpasses just a temporary boost in national pride. Thought the BBC's progress in terms of the digital platform has been excellent too.

    Hopefully the coverage continues to be as good over the Paralympics... especially looking forward to seeing Oscar Pistorius running - a pity he did not win anything a couple of weeks back - what an inspiration that would have been for other physically challenged individuals, let alone athletes!


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