Matt Butler: Paralympians treated as elite athletes? I’ll drink to that

View from the Sofa: IPC World Championships More4

If you played the not-so-old favourite Paralympics drinking game while watching the IPC World Championships you would have been hammered by teatime Saturday.

You know the one, where you drink one finger for every mention of “glory”, two for “London 2012” and the whole glass for any image of Oscar Pistorious.

And with good reason. Because the London 2012 Paralympics for many was the point where the events were seen as what they are – elite sportspeople doing their darnedest to win medals – rather than a festival of pointing-and-staring. This may sound insensitive, but Danny Crates, the former 800m sprinter, said as much in the opening gambits with the hosts Jonathan Edwards and Arthur Williams.

Crates (right), the summariser for the track commentary, competed in the early 2000s and he said world championship meetings in his heyday took place in front of minimal crowds – and those who did turn up were merely curious.

Not so in Lyon. Sure, the worlds were not held in a stadium as stunning as that in Stratford – or a stadium full stop, for that matter – but the picturesque surroundings of the athletics track looked well patronised by enthusiastic fans. The place was not full, but then again there were similar swathes of empty seats when Mo Farah broke the European 1500m record at Friday’s Diamond League meeting in Monaco.

Edwards and Williams looked like they had pitched up at a barbecue, wearing button-up shirts of the sort David Cameron would pack for a summer in Cornwall, perched on chairs next to two brightly coloured picnic tables under a gazebo which passed for the studio. Their chat began with the glory of London 2012 – that’s where the drinkers would have felt the most effects – and Williams appeared to be looking back in wistful nostalgia a little too much.

When introducing some of the British contingent, he spoke of the road to London 2012, prompting a stern chastising from Edwards. “That’s finished now, Arthur,” he said in the tone of a friendly teacher. “It’s all about the road to Rio, we can’t say London any more.”

The hallmarks which had made Channel 4’s coverage of London 2012 such a triumph were still in place, even down to the supermarket sponsorship and Public Enemy opening theme tune. The informative commentary of John Rawling and Rob Walker was also still there, as was the Tron-like Lexi information section, where the codes for athletes were deciphered.

One minor quibble. The first day’s coverage was almost five hours long, which is a stretch for any athletics event, let alone one you are accompanying with alcoholic fun. Of course as the week goes on things will hot up when the finals approach, but it was a slow start. In the first hour, apart from a brief clip of the British javelin thrower Nathan Stephens coming fifth, all we had to watch was heat after heat of T53 200m racers.

And you could tell Rawling and Walker occasionally had trouble filling the time with meaningful chat. As soon as the third heat of the 200m ended  the latter veered close to Alan Partridge territory when he talked of the spectators looking for “a bit of shade under those magnificent trees, they look a very nice position to be stood”.

He was right of course: it looked a great place to watch a sporting event. Just as long as they hadn’t settled in with a few drinks. Five hours is a long time to keep beer cool.

Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Latest in Sport
Sport
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Daily Quiz
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Career Services
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Sales Administrator

Negotiable: Recruitment Genius: This caravan dealership are currently recruiti...

Recruitment Genius: Invoicing Clerk

£14500 - £17500 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This company are contractors to...

Recruitment Genius: Executive Administrator / Marketing Assistant

£20000 - £25000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This leading supplier of packag...

Recruitment Genius: Trainee Field Sales - OTE £30,000

£18000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This company is a rapidly expanding offi...

Day In a Page

Greece debt crisis: What happened to democracy when it’s a case of 'Vote Yes or else'?

'The economic collapse has happened. What is at risk now is democracy...'

If it doesn’t work in Europe, how is it supposed to work in India or the Middle East, asks Robert Fisk
The science of swearing: What lies behind the use of four-letter words?

The science of swearing

What lies behind the use of four-letter words?
The Real Stories of Migrant Britain: Clive fled from Zimbabwe - now it won't have him back

The Real Stories of Migrant Britain

Clive fled from Zimbabwe - now it won’t have him back
Africa on the menu: Three foodie friends want to popularise dishes from the continent

Africa on the menu

Three foodie friends want to popularise dishes from the hot new continent
Donna Karan is stepping down after 30 years - so who will fill the DKNY creator's boots?

Who will fill Donna Karan's boots?

The designer is stepping down as Chief Designer of DKNY after 30 years. Alexander Fury looks back at the career of 'America's Chanel'
10 best statement lightbulbs

10 best statement lightbulbs

Dare to bare with some out-of-the-ordinary illumination
Wimbledon 2015: Heather Watson - 'I had Serena's poster on my wall – now I'm playing her'

Heather Watson: 'I had Serena's poster on my wall – now I'm playing her'

Briton pumped up for dream meeting with world No 1
Wimbledon 2015: Nick Bollettieri - It's time for big John Isner to produce the goods to go with his thumping serve

Nick Bollettieri's Wimbledon Files

It's time for big John Isner to produce the goods to go with his thumping serve
Dustin Brown: Who is the tennis player who knocked Rafael Nadal out of Wimbeldon 2015?

Dustin Brown

Who is the German player that knocked Nadal out of Wimbeldon 2015?
Ashes 2015: Damien Martyn - 'England are fired up again, just like in 2005...'

Damien Martyn: 'England are fired up again, just like in 2005...'

Australian veteran of that Ashes series, believes the hosts' may become unstoppable if they win the first Test
Tour de France 2015: Twins Simon and Adam Yates have a mountain to climb during Tour of duty

Twins have a mountain to climb during Tour of duty

Yates brothers will target the steepest sections in bid to win a stage in France
John Palmer: 'Goldfinger' of British crime was murdered, say police

Murder of the Brink’s-MAT mastermind

'Goldfinger' of British crime's life ended in a blaze of bullets, say police
Forget little green men - aliens will look like humans, says Cambridge University evolution expert

Forget little green men

Leading evolutionary biologist says aliens will look like humans
The Real Stories of Migrant Britain: An Algerian scientist adjusts to life working in a kebab shop

The Real Stories of Migrant Britain

An Algerian scientist struggles to adjust to her new life working in a Scottish kebab shop
Bodyworlds museum: Dr Gunther von Hagens has battled legal threats, Parkinson's disease, and the threat of bankruptcy

Dying dream of Doctor Death

Dr Gunther von Hagens has battled legal threats, Parkinson's disease, and the threat of bankruptcy