Bingeing on Rio

The time difference is a bit of a problem, but last night and tonight I am having a bit of a binge on the Paralympics at Rio 2016. I didn’t see enough of the Olympics, though I managed some of the cycling and the athletics and was stunned that Jess Ennis Hill’s silver was reported as a failure. Gimme a break. She was amazing. Did you see that final sprint?

Still, the Olympics are just the warm up act for the Paralympics where amazing is standard, gobsmacking is every day. I saw the new golden girl of swimming Ellie Robinson come out looking like ET in an oversized coat, owning the start line and winning gold in her first race while the crowd went wild. Tonight she’s up against the other golden Ellie, Ellie Simmonds whose performance at London 2012 inspired Ellie R to take up swimming. Ellie S is only 21, but Ellie R at 15 makes her seem almost old. Ellie Simmonds is inspirational. There is definitely a career for her when she ceases competitive swimming. She was in a television programme recently, learning to dive in the ocean. It was a surprise to learn that she had a fear of open water, a fear she overcame and achieved her childhood dream to swim with dolphins. She is such a warm person, radiates integrity and positivity. No wonder she is is so respected and admired by paralympians and others the world over.

Channel 4’s coverage is outstanding, it celebrates but also has fun. Try this.

Hannah Cockroft is racing tonight too. I shall be on the edge of my seat. I need some words other than amazing, but I am amazed. Ali Jawad could make me watch weightlifting, though possibly only if he is competing. Johnny Peacock has done it again, and when David Weir races this week I shall be holding my breath. All these athletes are articulate, funny, the sort of people you want to meet, people you look up too. Depressingly at the same time as we watch the Paralympics, seeing mind-boggling achievements, people defying what should be physical disabilities that limit their ambition and setting standards that cast all of us into their shadow, non-sporting disabled people in our communities are often attacked, bullied, demonised. The government takes away their benefits and makes lives that are already challenging that much harder. Using public transport is fraught with difficulties; often because of careless attitudes by staff who deem the journeys of the disabled as less important than those of able bodied travellers. The Paralympics helps educate society about what disability means and to see the people behind the disability. At least that’s what one hopes.

I can’t find the trailer where they mix footage with animations, where Johnny Peacock trails peacock feathers, Hannah Cockroft whips up a tornado and David Weir turns into werewolf, but I did manage to get this one.

So enjoy, and join me on a binge at Rio.


International Women’s Day

Last year on International Women’s day I said thank you to 101 women who have had a positive effect on my life and helped shape who I am. A lot of them have no idea I exist. It doesn’t matter.
I’m not going for another 101 today, but when I think back to last year there was a group of women who I left out. I am not sure a single sportswoman featured in my list. Then London 2012 happened. So today belatedly I want to say thank-you to all of the women athletes who made it such a memorable summer. For the British team, it was the women who kicked off the summer’s success, so I find it very sad and frustrating that just a few months on the sports sections of the national papers are dominated by men’s sports. In fact, we didn’t have to wait months. It happened almost immediately. Continue reading