The Paralympic Games Deserves Everyone’s Support- Paul Blanchard

By iSportconnect | March 5, 2012

With six months to go before the start of the London Paralympic Games on, the unveiling of the Paralympic Torch and extensive coverage of Lady Tanni Grey-Thompson has given the Games a much needed media boost. The torch relay, which will be the 7th since its introduction at Seoul in 1988, will feature four nights of consecutive lighting events uniting at a special ceremony in Stoke Mandeville, home of the Paralympic movement on August 28th. It will then begin its journey to London’s opening ceremony the following day.
It is easy to lose sight of the Nation’s second biggest sporting event in a generation as excitement, anticipation and coverage grows exponentially on a daily basis towards the three week sporting and media orgy that will bring the nation to a patriotic standstill.  However, The Paralympics (or Parallel Olympics to give it its official title) will be a major event in its own right, easily surpassing the scale of Beijing which featured 4,000 athletes from 146 different nations.
So, are The Paralympics getting a fair share of media voice at the moment? Apart from the torch announcement it is difficult to find coverage in the mainstream media and attention from the main broadcast partners are very low key. There are specialist programmes about competitors generally tucked away in quiet schedule times, but surely these athletes deserve better.
This is an event in which GB finished second in the medal table in Beijing with 102 medals. Equally impressively, GB lie second behind the US in the all time summer games table with 1426 medals from the 13 events to date.
Hopes and expectations are very high and a table topping performance is a genuine possibility. Ticket sales are exceptional, so it will comfortably be the best attended games to date. Give it the coverage it deserves. Showcase the best of GB talent and stop treating it like a post Olympic afterthought.
Why am I on my soap box about this? Well a year ago, I almost certainly wouldn’t have been. However, running the county’s newest elite training venue, The Surrey Sports Park at The University of Surrey and having hosted a number of elite Paralypic athletes and teams since opening 2 years ago, I have seen fantastic talent, commitment and passion that should be rewarded with attention and recognition.
We are experienced in hosting sporting events for athletes with physical and mental impairments. Last year, Surrey Sports Park hosted the Paralympic Potential Day, which saw 70 athletes try out in a full day of sports trials with the hope of being selected to be fast tracked for the London 2012 Paralympic Games. Last July, we played host to our first ever Wheelchair Rugby event, as the GBWR Coloplast Super Series came to Surrey. Recently, we held a Great Britain Wheelchair Basketball’s training camp and league fixtures in our arena before the team went to Ireland to win the Belfast International Challenge.
Helen Turner was part of the GB team that won gold at the BT Paralympic World Cup last year, but says the sport is becoming more competitive, which highlights the need for top class facilities. She said “they will have to put in the work if they are to have anything to shout about at the London 2012 Paralympics”.
It is crucial that these athletes receive all the support that can be provided ahead of August.
As we are now “in the home  straight” approaching The Olympic and Paralympic Games, we are finalising our roster of teams and athletes, who will put the final touches to their pre games training programme at The Surrey Sports Park. We will host Olympic athletes representing, but are equally committed to providing a similar base for Paralympic athletes. Recently swimmers from the Croatian Paralympic team used the impressive pool at The Park and whilst discussions are still ongoing, we will provide a major platform for a number of National Paralympic Committees to finalise their training programmes and prepare their athletes for the second biggest sporting event in a generation.
The Paralympic Games will be a fantastic sporting spectacle, a perfect complement to The Olympic Games and an event that Team GB will be a major player – that deserves all of our support.

With six months to go before the start of the London Paralympic Games, the unveiling of the Paralympic Torch and extensive coverage of Lady Tanni Grey-Thompson has given the Games a much needed media boost. The torch relay, which will be the 7th since its introduction at Seoul in 1988, will feature four nights of consecutive lighting events, uniting at a special ceremony in Stoke Mandeville, home of the Paralympic movement on August 28th. It will then begin its journey to London’s opening ceremony the following day.

It is easy to lose sight of the nation’s second biggest sporting event in a generation as excitement, anticipation and coverage grows exponentially on a daily basis towards the three week sporting and media orgy that will bring the nation to a patriotic standstill. However, The Paralympics (or Parallel Olympics to give it its official title) will be a major event in its own right, easily surpassing the scale of Beijing which featured 4,000 athletes from 146 different nations. 

So, are The Paralympics getting a fair share of media voice at the moment? Apart from the torch announcement, it is difficult to find coverage in the mainstream media and attention from the main broadcast partners are very low key. There are specialist programmes about competitors generally tucked away in quiet schedule times, but surely these athletes deserve better.

This is an event in which GB finished second in the medal table in Beijing with 102 medals. Equally impressively, GB lie second behind the US in the all time summer games table with 1426 medals from the 13 events to date.

Hopes and expectations are very high and a table topping performance is a genuine possibility. Ticket sales are exceptional, so it will comfortably be the best attended games to date so give it the coverage it deserves. Showcase the best of GB talent and stop treating it like a post Olympic afterthought!

Why am I on my soap box about this? Well a year ago, I almost certainly wouldn’t have been. However, running the county’s newest elite training venue, The Surrey Sports Park at The University of Surrey and having hosted a number of elite Paralypic athletes and teams since opening two years ago, I have seen fantastic talent, commitment and passion that should be rewarded with attention and recognition. We are experienced in hosting sporting events for athletes with physical and mental impairments.

Last year, we hosted the Paralympic Potential Day, which saw 70 athletes try out in a full day of sports trials with the hope of being selected to be fast tracked for the London 2012 Paralympic Games. Last July, we played host to our first ever Wheelchair Rugby event, as the GBWR Coloplast Super Series came to Surrey. Recently, we held a Great Britain Wheelchair Basketball’s training camp and league fixtures in our arena before the team went to Ireland to win the Belfast International Challenge. 

Helen Turner was part of the GB team that won gold at the BT Paralympic World Cup last year, but says the sport is becoming more competitive, which highlights the need for top class facilities. She said that they will have to put in the work if they are to have anything to shout about at the London 2012 Paralympics. 

It is crucial that these athletes receive all the support that can be provided ahead of August.

As we are now “in the home  straight” approaching The Olympic and Paralympic Games, we are finalising our roster of teams and athletes, who will put the final touches to their pre games training programme. We will host Olympic athletes, but are equally committed to providing a similar base for Paralympic athletes. Recently swimmers from the Croatian Paralympic team used the impressive pool at The Park and whilst discussions are still ongoing, we will provide a major platform for a number of National Paralympic Committees to finalise their training programmes and prepare their athletes for the second biggest sporting event in a generation.

The Paralympic Games will be a fantastic sporting spectacle, a perfect complement to The Olympic Games and an event that Team GB will be a major player – that deserves all of our support.


About Paul Blanchard:

Paul Blanchard is the CEO of Surrey Sports Park.

He has more than 20 years’ sports marketing experience with Ladbrokes, the NFL, Scottish Premier League, Southampton Football Club, The Oval and Super League.  Prior to joining Surrey Sports Park in 2011, he was Chief Executive of Harlequins Rugby League.

His career highlights include involvement in the 1996 World Bowl with The Scottish Claymore, 2003 FA Cup Final with Southampton Football Club and 2005 Ashes Victory at The Oval.

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