There was a funny thing at the Sydney Paralympics. The 2, on all the merchandise, was written in a really sharp, funky some might say, way. A bit like the Zoro sign – for those of us who remember that Saturday morning TV highlight. In any event, this was the case on everything Sydney 2000, including on all the flags around the village. This prompted one of our team staff to ask, in all seriousness, “Why are all of these flags everywhere advertising Sydney Zoo?”
Sydney 2000 would be my last Paralympic Games and perhaps I went one Games too far, although I did manage to come home with one lump of New South Wales Silver. I had prepared well, I was in good shape but, largely Sydney for me would be some pretty bad days at the office. That very much aside, the Games were good, very good and needed to be after the debacle of Atlanta.
Operationally everything worked, great transport, village and competition venues. The pool was tremendous and was packed. The Games had moved on again, crowds throughout the park and sports venues, crowds who had committed to and paid to be part of the Paralympics. Sydney Paralympic Games, the first Paralympic Games to have a meaningful, and impressive, ticket sales programme.
British broadcasting of the Paralympics moved on again too, with almost daily coverage of events from the Games. Paralympians were starting to become recognised on TV, from TV. Lee Pearson steering his horse to dressage golden glory and Noel Thatcher after his famous 5K victory on the track, to name just two.
Sydney 2000 Paralympic Games took the sport, the Games, global. Not universal, more nations yet to come, and more broadcasters – it would take a further 16 years to finally get NBC across the line. But, Sydney was global, in feel, in outlook, in coverage and in the complete presentation of Paralympic sport.
And, finally, for Sydney, that closing ceremony, global for sure. Kylie spinning around, athletes, Stadium Australia, Sydney spinning the Paralympic World to a new place for the new millennium. A global place, a global Games, the first such Paralympic Games.
21 years on…
Twenty one years on from the Sydney Paralympics the Paralympians of the world are beginning to arrive in Tokyo for a Games in unique circumstances. Unique yes but, as Sydney set the Games, Tokyo will be that global stage for our Great British Paralympians to perform.
A team of already champions, Pearson and Simmonds for sure, alongside many, many first gamers, all of whom have the spotlight of the world on them. To compete, to perform, to PB, to medal, to British, European, Paralympic and World Record- Paralympians of Tokyo 2020- it’s your time. Your time and we will all take the time to watch, to will you on via Channel 4’s world beating coverage. More sports for more hours with more disabled talent presenting than any other broadcaster ever.
Paralympic Perspectives 1: golden history
Paralympic Perspectives II: Seoul 1988, my first Paralympic Games
Paralympic Perspectives III: Barcelona 1992, six golds at a single Games!
Paralympic Perspectives V: London 2012, “the greatest Paralympic Games ever”
Paralympic Perspectives VI: Paralympic classification explained