Two superhuman weeks
Zone deputy editor Chris Gibbons spent two weeks working at the Paralympic Games. Here, he tells us about his experience…
The Paralympics has become the new weather, ie the British public's default conversation topic. That's how Paralympic sport's newest – and possibly most unlikely – celebrity cheerleader, Jimmy Carr, summed up the second act of London 2012.
For two weeks murderball players, no-legged sprinters and dwarf javelin throwers went from being on the periphery of sport to a staple of watercooler chats – and primetime TV. Replacing the melodrama of Hollyoaks was sporting drama of the highest quality – and the viewers lapped it up in their millions.
I'm really happy about that, because for a large chunk of the past two years I worked for Zone editing Channel 4's Paralympics website.
Earlier this year Sunset + Vine, the production team behind C4's coverage, asked if I wanted to put my Paralympic experience to good use and work on their news desk during the Games. It was too good an opportunity to miss.
So I spent two weeks at the Olympic Park’s humungous International Broadcast Centre, making sure presenters such as Clare Balding, Jonathan Edwards and Adam Hills had all the facts, figures and latest information about GB's whopping medal haul needed to make their on-screen delivery super-slick. Which, obviously – them being complete professionals and all – it was.
It felt great to see, at close hand, athletes realise the Paralympic dreams I'd spoken to them about. One of my personal highlights was watching an ecstatic Aled Davies – formerly one of our website video diarists – bound around the Olympic Stadium after winning discus gold before receiving his medal from the Duchess of Cambridge.
In preparing for the Games, Channel 4 set out to try to change the way people think about those with disabilities. The fact that millions tuned in each night to watch the guys and girls advertised as 'superhumans' live up to their billing (more than six million watched Jonnie Peacock take Oscar Pistorius' 100m crown) hopefully means they achieved that.
It's nice to think I –and Zone – played a part.