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After the excitement of the Beijing Paralympics, London 2012 promises to surpass all expectations.

Although established athletes like Eleanor Simmonds, David Weir and Lee Pearson will be at the forefront of ParalympicsGB's plans, the need to identify and bring through new talent is becoming more and more important as the Games approaches.

Increased funding is allowing initiatives like ParalympicsGB's Parasport programme, which aims to increase participation in disabled sport, to take on a new significance.

With the memories of Beijing still fresh, hopefuls filled out an online form over the last few weeks on the ParalympicsGB website and were invited along to east London's Mile End Leisure Centre earlier this week to try out 19 Paralympic sports.

Continue reading "Hunt is on for Paralympic talent"

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Many people, usually the athletes, describe the Paralympics as a roller-coaster of emotions.

In the privileged position of reporting on a Games, you see those emotions played out on a daily basis and you can't help but be affected by what you see unfold in front of you.

Whether it is seeing superb human achievements, triumph over adversity or just plain grit and determination, each Games has so many memorable moments.

We asked some of the BBC team covering the Games about their moments to remember from the Beijing Paralympics and we would love to know what yours were.

Continue reading "Magic moments"

Great Britain's end of Games report from the Beijing Paralympics makes for satisfactory reading.

The team was the best-prepared to have gone to a Games and had benefited hugely from National Lottery cash.

Pre-Games, ParalympicsGB chief Phil Lane had said publicly that the team would be scrapping for top-three in the medals table and were hoping for 35-40 golds - although UK Sport had set a slightly more ambitious target of 112 medals.

In the end they fell just short of that target with 102 medals, eight more than in Athens four years ago, with 42 golds, compared to 35 last time. They held off the challenge of the US, a fast-improving Ukraine, and Australia, to finish second in the table.

Continue reading "Britain's view of the Games"

There are just not enough words to describe the emotions that I have experienced during the Paralympic Games in Beijing.

There have been highs and lows, some phenomenal performances and lots of tears (happiness, frustration, anger, and more happiness), and that has just been in the Bird's Nest, let along anywhere else.

David Weir did a great job on the track on the final night of action, winning his second gold medal, and overall it was the best night of athletics for the team.

David came into the Games with Britain's best chance of winning athletics gold medals and a lot was expected of him.

Continue reading "Athletics needs to take action"

This was definitely the best Paralympic swimming meet I have ever been to in terms of quality of the races.

There were some great individual gold medals - three from people who have been here before, Sascha Kindred, Dave Roberts and Liz Johnson and they came back and did a good job.

And three from first timers Sam Hynd, Heather Frederiksen and of course Ellie Simmonds, plus the relay as well.

Continue reading "Great meet but room to improve"

Maybe it was national pride or just a real desire to see the team reach the final, but I really felt the Great Britain men could do it and finally end 12 years of hurt with a return to the final of the Paralympic basketball competition.

Alas, it was not to be and the culprits were the old enemy, the mighty Aussie Rollers. ('Flaming Galahs' I believe is how our antipodean friends would put it.)

Mind you, we did play like a bunch of "Great Galuts" for the first three-quarters of the game. (I must point out that I learnt all my Australian from Alf Stewart in Home and Away).

Giving the Rollers too much of a head start, GB ultimately paid the price for poor ball movement and sloppy defence, especially on Justin Eveson, who punished us by scoring 22 points.

Continue reading "GB basketball's hurt continues"

The box office big-hitters at the Olympics or Paralympics will always be the athletes, swimmers, rowers and cyclists.

Over the last few days, ParalympicsGB hasn't let us down. David Weir finally grabbed a slice of gold pie in the Bird's Nest, 13-year-old swimmer Eleanor Simmonds got us all blubbering after putting her school books down to win two golds, and there was blind cyclist Aileen McGlynn's glorious win in the velodrome. And before I get a whacking from a rowing blade, there was Helene Raynsford's historic win.

But listen up, there's a Paralympic sport that may not be on many of your radars, but has certainly been rocking my world. It's got violence, bags of skill and more bangs than a Guy Ritchie re-make of Chitty Chitty Bang Bang (Just a play on the word 'bang', in case you were thinking Dick Van Dyke had played the sport).

Continue reading "A love affair with murderball "


Her mother was seemingly anxious to get her home for some lunch after a morning at the Olympic Green tennis centre.

Something though had caught the ear of the little Chinese girl as she was hurried past Court 5 towards the exit.

She was maybe only four or five and for the next 15 minutes or so, she resisted every attempt to whisk her away.

Food could wait. She insisted on staying to watch something I suspect might remain with her for the rest of her life.

Continue reading "Vergeer's poetry in motion"


It was a five-star show from swimmer Natalie du Toit at the Beijing Paralympics. The 24-year-old South African, who lost her left leg in a motorcycle accident back in 2001, was entered in five events at the Water Cube - it would have been six but for an administration error that meant she missed the 100m backstroke - and won them all.

With the S9 100m butterfly, 100m freestyle and 400m freestyle and 50m freestyle on the menu, along with the SM9 200m individual medley, it was a hectic schedule for du Toit but one she took, like everything else, with typical stoicism and humility.

She won each of her heats, then triumphed in all of her five finals, setting three world records en route on what she called an "emotional rollercoaster".

Continue reading "Du Toit shines again on big stage"


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"

After spending just over a week in Beijing, I discovered on Saturday night that the best way to learn Mandarin (which is probably the hardest language in the world to master if you are a Westerner) is to have a night out on the town.

If you are a wheelchair user, clubbing in Beijing is bizarre and after a few drinks you have to try to explain to a local cab driver how to get back to your hotel.

It is indeed a mammoth task that requires a combination of skill, patience and trust.

There may be times when you feel you are going in the wrong direction but you have to be brave and ultimately follow the Paralympic flame, because it's a fantastic landmark!

Continue reading "The right direction for Paralympic gold"

Well there are few words to explain David Weir's 800m race on Saturday night apart from saying 'He was robbed'.

David did everything right. He had confidence, and he figured out that the best way to run the race, was to go to the front and control it, and finish with devastating speed.

He called it his 'bogey' event, and he destroyed that myth with a perfectly executed race. As he came off the track he said to BBC reporter Phil Jones that he had never won an 800m race at this level, and thanks to the Australians, he still hasn't.

Little did he know that just a few hours after the ecstasy of winning, he would be left devastated because of a protest.

Continue reading "Second race cruel on Weir"

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