Blog posts by Maree Ireland

The status of the Paralympics

Sep 16, 2016

The 2016 Olympics have come and gone. Our Olympic team’s accomplishments and disappointments were well reported and publicised on the main TV stations. Their arrival home was also well publicised on the main TV stations and in the newspapers. So you could say if you weren’t aware the Olympics were on you were living in hibernation. You really didn’t have to 'remember' that they were on to see how our Olympians were doing, you just had to turn on the TV and there was coverage.

However, I wonder how much of the community are truly aware and regularly follow our disabled athletes in the Paralympics.  'Para' means 'next to', I just wonder if our Paralympians are getting 'next to' the recognition, viewing and support our Olympians received.

Admittedly they are being shown on TV, but on Foxtel stations, so you have to 'remember' that these games are on and then turn onto Foxtel (if you have it!) There might be a piecemeal mention of winners on the mainstream news.

I have been watching it when I can. I enjoy watching our athletes win for themselves and Australia however I get put off and annoyed by the commentary. When I heard one commentator say “These athletes are not really here to win, they are here for the experience” I thought yep, they devote themselves to non-stop training for years just for the experience of being a Paralympian. I really don’t think so! They are there to win first, like all athletes aspire to, and enjoy the experience.

After starting to write this post, I have heard more than I thought on both TV and radio about our gold medal Paralympians which is great. However, there is still this feeling that the coverage is an add-on gesture and the excitement of our athletes winning is still lacking in the coverage.

Perhaps a way to raise the status of the Paralympics would be to alternate which games are held first every four years. But I can’t see that really happening in the near future.

So what can be done?