The Main Event

In the July issue of Dazed, we spoke to four of Channel 4’s Paralympics reporters

Arthur Williams

Jordan Jarrett-Bryan: The wheelchair-basketball champion, one-time editor of LIVE Magazine and Dazed regular answers a few more questions for us about the games.

Dazed Digital: Behind each Paralympic athlete is a story of exceptional drive and determination. Is it important for us to understand this back story or should we just be celebrating the athletic achievement?
Jordan Jarrett-Bryan: I personally don’t think the back story is important. Some of the stories are amazing and while it would be naïve to dismiss the back story, let’s not forget it’s a sporting tournament.

DD: Why has it taken until now for the media to give the Paralympics the coverage it deserves?
Jordan Jarrett-Bryan: It’s because it’s in London. It was inevitable that the media were going to give it more exposure than ever before but Channel 4 have gone two steps further with 150 hours of coverage and money spent on making sure the games reach as many people as possible. The UK likes to think of itself as a leader when it comes to disability equality, so this is a great chance for us to prove it.

DD: Do you hope to see more disabled sports coverage in the media following the Paralympics?
Jordan Jarrett-Bryan: I do, and hope this is just the start of seeing disability sport on TV. We don’t expect prime time, but let’s see it on TV after the games and allow the interest to grow.

Martin Dougan: Glasgow-based furniture designer Dougan proves he has the camera skills to match his carpentry.

DD: What first interested you in wheelchair basketball, and what did you get out of it?
Martin Dougan: I went into a wheelchair when I was 13; I was an avid football player before that – everywhere I went I had a ball at my feet. I moved house and lived next door to a guy called Davie Gilmour, who was also in a chair. He asked me to come along to train for his team, and I never looked back.

DD: How do you feel about presenting something on this scale?
Martin Dougan: What don’t I feel? Excited, focused, scared, determined...I could go on. I try not to think about how big it’s all going be; I have my job to do and as long as I deliver – which I will – that’s all I care about.

DD: Do you think the Paralympics can be as exciting to the general public as the Olympics?
Martin Dougan: Short answer: yes. There’s new disabled talent fronting the games along with experienced pros, which gives the viewers fresh new faces to look at. I can’t believe I’m a part of this team; we are going to make history. This year we have the Queen’s Jubilee, Euro 2012 and the Olympics, but the story everyone will be talking about will be the Paralympics. I promise.

Daraine Mulvihill: Mulvihill is no stranger to cameras and cues, having presented the BT World Cup coverage two years ago and been awarded the Irish Person of the Year award in 2001.

DD: How do you think the Channel 4 coverage will change people’s perceptions of Paralympic sport?
Daraine Mulvihill: Channel 4 is going to cover the Paralympics in an innovative way. Many people won’t be used to seeing Paralympic sport, so making it as attractive as possible to the viewer is key. We won’t be scared of tackling disability head on and we’ll aim to make things as understandable as possible.

DD: How did you get involved with Paralympic sports, and what did you get out of it?
Daraine Mulvihill: I was an athlete before I lost my limbs from meningitis. If sport is a natural part of your life before you have a disability, you will want to get back involved. It’s through sport that many people learn to come to terms with their disability and realise they can still have an active and exciting future.

DD: Which of the Paralympic games are you particularly looking forward to?
Daraine Mulvihill: Because I used to run, I have a soft spot for it. I’m especially excited to watch the amputee sprinting as it’s one of the most tightly contested categories.

DD: Do you think the Paralympics can be as exciting to the general public as the Olympics?
Daraine Mulvihill: Yes, definitely, even more so! What these athletes have to go through to get to the level they’re at is unreal. They’re not just there because they’re the biggest, best and fastest – which they are – they also had a long and arduous journey and those two factors cannot be separated.

Arthur Williams: The marathon-winning wheelchair racer on moving from military drills to primetime telly.

DD: How did your experience as a marine affect your attitude towards your disability?
Arthur Williams: The mentality I had in the early days was totally self-destructive, and at the same time a huge advantage. I felt a sense of injustice at going from being someone who was at peak fitness and ability to someone who couldn’t really do anything in a hospital bed. On the flip side, my drive, grit, and determination helped me make a quick physical recovery.

DD: Should the Paralympics be integrated into the other Olympic games, or do you think they benefit from separation?
Arthur Williams: I definitely think they should stay separate. If they were amalgamated I believe the Paralympics would go largely unnoticed. Being independent makes them a completely different spectacle that attracts its own audience who, like me, are drawn to the individual stories behind the athletes and the complexities of the sports.

DD: Do you think the Paralympics can be as exciting to the general public as the Olympics?
Arthur Williams: Yes, once the public understand how the sports work then I genuinely believe it can gain as much interest as mainstream sports. In five years time people will be in the pub arguing over who has better technique over the 1500m. Weir or Hug?

Read Jordan Jarrett-Bryan's Paralympics introduction HERE. These interviews first appeared in the July issue of Dazed & Confused

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