Archive for the ‘paralympic games’ Tag

Thank Adolf for the Paralympics

Starting with a Big Bang

Little known fact – we’ve got Herr Hitler to thank for the Paralympics. The founding father of the Paralympic Games was a Jewish doctor on the run from the Nazis who took refuge in the UK. Ludwig Guttmann was born in Silesia in Germany in 1899 and got the hell outta there just before the war in March 1939 (a year after my dad who arrived in London in 1938 at the age of 1). He qualified in 1924 and by 1933 was considered the top Neurosurgeon in the country. Adolf’s arrival meant he couldn’t practice professionally other than in a Jewish-only hospital in Breslau. Once he made it to England he settled down to work at the Radcliffe Infirmary in Oxford. He became a British citizen in 1945. Two years earlier he set up a spinal injuries unit based at Stoke Mandeville Hospital in Buckinghamshire. He was a strong advocate of sport as a therapy for spinal injury, building up strength and re-establishing self-belief.

In July 1948, timed to coincide with the opening of the London Olympics, he established the Stoke Mandeville Games which focused on wheelchair sports like archery and involved just over a dozen patients. By the time of the next Olympics (1952) 130 international competitors took part in the Stoke Mandeville Games. In 1960 (in Rome) they transformed into the Paralympic Games (a term which actually came into usage in 1984 [four years after the good doctor passed away] but is retrospectively applied to Rome). At Rome Margaret Maughan, one of Guttmann’s patients in the wake of a 1959 car accident, won Great Britain’s first ever Paralympic gold medal, in the archery competition. The 84 year old lit the flame in Thomas Hetherwick’s Olympic cauldron at last night’s marvellous Opening Ceremony.

Meanwhile back in the Athletes’ Village across the Olympic Park Guttmann’s daughter Eva Loeffler has been acting as the mayor of the village. “I think he would be immensely proud of what has happened. … For future Paralympic Games it shows they are in no way second class games, they’re parallel games.”

The opening ceremonies, Danny Boyle’s and last night’s by Bradley Hemmings and Jenny Sealey, were very much in parallel and complementary – seated giants of Science Tim Berners-Lee and Stephen Hawking, The Tempest, Shaky thesps Kenneth Branagh and Ian McKellen, umbrellas, that beautifully designed cauldron, patiently swaying volunteers, and crucially punk attitude in John Lydon and Ian Dury to give the whole thing real British bite. Add to that some gold medal worthy signing alongside the singers, the rapturous welcome of the GB Team in their Major Tom-style white & gold suits, DV8’s incredible David Toole (star of the brilliant Cost of Living) and a rousing climax to the soul sounds of Beverley Knight in I Am What I Am and I am fired up for a very special occasion born of a very special man.

Lapping it up

Maragaret Maughan at London 2012 Paralympics Opening Ceremony

Enlightened & Fired up (Margaret Maughan)

founder of Paralympic Games

A Good Man who outlived Adolf in every way

 

Post-script 2.ix.12:

Another Olympic thing we have to thank Adolf’s merry men for is the torch relay, made much of in both the Olympics and Paralympics in London 2012 – not an ancient Greek tradition but introduced by Carl Diem, organiser of the Berlin 1936 Games for some fake Classical dignity for the inglourious basterds.

Forget Everything You Thought You Knew About The Paralympics

This 90 seconds of video is one of the best things that’s been made since I started at Channel 4 nine years ago (rivalled only by a dance in DV8’s Cost of Living and perhaps some moments in Jump London). It perfectly captures the spirit of Channel 4 and therefore why I work here.


I couldn’t have been prouder when it premiered last night simultaneously across 76 channels and got reactions like this (via Twitter):

Meet the Superhumans. C4 just made the Paralympics the most inspirational and important event this Summer

What an incredible promo #goosebumps #superhumans

Channel 4 just put down a big marker for best ad of #london2012 there with the #superhumans trail for the Paralympics

Oof. This trailer makes me want to watch the Paralympics much more than the Olympics.

Just seen the Channel 4 Paralympic ad. Great piece of work. Puts the very average BBC “Pixar” trailers to shame.

The Channel 4 Paralympic advert is something special! So much better than BBC!

what an inspirational advert about the paralympic games #Strength #Superhumans !!!

Stunning spot from channel 4 #superhumans. Very welcome to interrupt my viewing anytime…..

Just seen the premiere of the advert for the Paralympics  made me cry. Can’t think of a better word for those inspiring people #superhumans

Just got little bit emotional over Paralympics advert #inspirational

The channel four adverts are making me more excited for the paralympics than the olympics.

Advert for the Paralympics on Channel 4 is better than anything I’ve seen for the Olympics so far Oh  & I love that Public Enemy tune

And the choice of music is inspired – giving the trailer real attitude. Here’s the Public Enemy track Harder Than You Think and here’s where Chuck D and crew got that great brass sample from, close to home – of all places Shirley Bassey’s 1972 vintage Jezahel, so NYC meets …Cardiff.

Attitude is the key to this film and to C4. My favourite shots are the second one of the swimmer under the shower at 0:21 (her face is glowing with attitude) and the other swimmer adjusting her hair at 0:26. The trail was directed by Tom Tagholm of 4Creative.

When Team GB Paralympic team  got a preview of this trailer at a dinner on Saturday night they were delighted that their sport had finally been given the cool treatment and captured their spirit.

Paralympics 2012 #1: Lost and Found

He was nine – in fact it was his birthday – nine and messing on the train tracks in South Wales. As he tried to climb aboard the last carriage of a slow-moving freight train grinding to a halt on the Swansea to Paddington line, looking to get his kicks surfing on its roof, Nathan Stephens lost his legs, sheared off, never to kick again.

But in losing those youthful limbs in April 1997, it turned out he found something too. It changed his life forever. He is now a gold medal hope for javelin (my own preferred event at school, hence my starting this series with Nathan) at the London Paralympics to be covered by Channel 4 this summer. “Before the accident, he was wild and woolly. He would have been happy being a bin man and playing for the local rugby club”, according to his mother. “There is more determination to his life – you’ve only got one life, and you have to take every opportunity … He lost something, but he gained something even greater.”

London Paralympic Logo

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