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Six Phrases You Hear Only at the Paralympics
“Why are all of those Chinese guys holding onto each other?”
I was mystified when I first arrived in the London Paralympic Village by large groups of Chinese athletes all walking around, with one arm draped across another’s shoulder, in single file lines. Were they all so close as teammates they felt the need to hold onto each other constantly? No, they are a phenomenon known as “blind trains.” Since visually impaired athletes are unfamiliar with the new surroundings of the village, they link together, and have a sighted leader to guide. Brilliant. Our goal became to find the longest train possible. Ten was the longest I saw, but rumors abounded about a mythic 16-man train.
“He doesn’t have any arms! How is he going to get out of the pool?!”
China has a swimmer who has no arms. We watched him dominate his race, but I was at a loss for how he would get out of the pool. He puts what exists of his upper arm on a bar, and uses the leverage to get out. I was really hoping he’d launch himself out of the water like a dolphin. Oh well.
“How is he going to jump over that? He only has one leg!”
Iliesa Delana. Just watch, he’s at 3:29 of this video: www.youtube.com/watch?v=6Drmva50mpM. Incredible. I’m going to make a radical suggestion here. Single amputee skiers like Michael Bruegger should ski without their leg. I have no idea if this is at all feasible or even safe, but my entertainment is the priority here. So I say let’s go for it.
“I wish I didn’t have legs.”
An absence of legs allows you to turn incredibly quickly in a wheelchair. We don’t use our legs anyway in these sports. Might as well lose them. That makes sense, right?
“Is there anything even wrong with them?”
Paralympic athletes are all fierce competitors, and ruthless, too. Only at the Paralympics will you hear someone question whether or not a person is disabled enough to compete.
“It’s a Stephen Hawking dance party!”
How many astrophysicists do you know who can bring the house down and start a huge dance party? I didn’t think there were any, until Stephen Hawking proved me dead wrong at the Opening Ceremony in London. When the voice of one of the world’s smartest men tells you to dance, you do it.
— Chuck Aoki, www.paralympic.org/blogs
2014 Media Coverage: By the Numbers
The International Paralympic Committee and the United States Olympic Committee have done a great job in securing a 1,000 percent increase in air-time for the Paralympic Games in Sochi. Their exclusive partnership with NBC and NBCSN enables them to air 52 hours of TV coverage for the Games. That’s a huge step from just two short years ago when the Summer Games received 5.5 hours of TV coverage.
Even though NBC is airing 52 hours of coverage, it’s almost impossible for most people to actually watch the events. If you’ve decided to cut the cable cord in your house like more and more people are opting to do, you’ll have viewing access to only one event on NBC — the Sled Hockey Finale. The other events covered on NBC include the Opening Ceremonies and the Paralympics Review Show — a total of four hours on the main network.
The argument could be made that people just aren’t interested in watching the Winter Paralympic Games. But how often do you watch Bode Miller’s downhill in non-Olympic years? Still, when the Winter Olympics rolls around you are a diehard Alpine fan. It’s a can’t miss sporting event because Bode’s wearing the red, white and blue. We think the same can be said for the Paralympic Games. We’d love to support our fellow Americans … if only most of us could watch it.
— Brian Quin, www.valuepenguin.com