i Editor's Letter: Paralympic inspiration


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The Independent Online


Words that editors are supposed never to utter: I'm really not sure how interested you all are in the Paralympics. It's my job to interpret i's readership and gauge how much you do or do not care about stories, then place and feature them. But, this leaves me unusually unsure of my own judgement.

There is no doubt at all about today's front-page splash. Even doubters must admit this is a major moment that may change the public's attitudes about people with disabilities. The Paralympics begin high on the wave of euphoria that built up throughout the glorious Olympics: the patriotism, the revelling in honest, top-class sport, and our near-desperate search for genuine heroes we can believe in and relate to.

Will Ellie Simmonds, Rik Waddon and Jonnie Peacock become household names in the way that Laura Trott and Nicola Adams, Greg Rutherford and Mo Farah are? Or, as only Oscar Pistorius currently is? I hope so. I really do.

But... there are a few buts. Even Channel 4 admits its coverage cannot be as comprehensive as the BBC's was on its red button. We do not know the athletes; the rules can be complicated to follow; there appears to be less commercial interest; and no public figure will admit to not being interested because it would be too politically incorrect. Plus, showy football and its obscene transfer window is here and perhaps there is a little "obscure" sports fatigue.

I hope not. I hope my doubts are unfounded. Because if there is one thing that is obvious in advance, it is that Paralympians are the living embodiment of the notion that you can "inspire a generation". Prepare to be inspired.