The Paralympics. Those got underway last Wednesday and last until this Sunday (Jay Z is joining Coldplay and Rihanna at the closing ceremony on Sunday), but here in the U.S. few have been paying much attention. Since you might not have seen them, here are some great moments you've probably missed. NBC is airing nowhere near as many hours of the Paralympics as they did the Olympics, but the games are being broadcast on YouTube, and The Guardian notes that even the minimal coverage in the States is more than previous years. Still, for those who are watching, the Games have been a hit (London mayor Boris Johnson, not currently stuck on a zip line as far as we know, called the event “the best Paralympic Games ever”), and they, just like the Olympic, are full of astounding moments.
Great Britain's Richard Whitehead Amazing Finish There was, in the end, no contest for the gold in the men's T42 200-meter as you can see in this clip via Kottke.org. As The Guardian's Owen Gibson writes, "Loudly acclaimed by the 65,000 crowd inside the Olympic Stadium and no doubt those watching on television, his victory will go down alongside those of Mo Farah, Sir Chris Hoy and the rest in the annals of a remarkable British sporting summer." Britain, at time of publication, is currently in second place in the medal count, flanked by China on top and Russia below. Oh yeah, Whitehead also set the world record.
David Wetherill's Table Tennis Gymnastics In another astounding moment for Great Britain, table tennis player David Wetherill made the diving shot featured in the clip below. That said, despite the love this clip has gotten, Wetherill tweeted himself that he actually lost the match.
An Olympic Hero's Fall South African Oscar Pistorius became the cross-over star of both the Olympics and Paralympic games, and got some of the latter's most widespread coverage after he lost in the men's T44 200-meter final. Pistorius was not the most gracious loser, complaining that the gold medalist, Alan Oliveira had an unfair advantage because of his longer blades. He has since apologized. It's an interesting and odd turn for Pistorius, who has had to fight back claims that his blades gave him an unfair advantage at the Olympics against able-bodied runners. The spat continued yesterday as South African officials alleged in a letter to the International Paralympic Committee that Pistorius' competitors were switching the length of their blades between heats and finals.
After Classification Change, Weggemann Wins Gold U.S. swimmer Mallory Weggemann is another featured player in the Games' controversies. On the eve of the Games Weggemann, who is paralyzed from the waist down, was switched to a group for less severely disabled athletes. She told the BBC World Service that she "lost faith" in the system:
I'm a T10 complete paraplegic, I have no feeling or movement from my belly button down and I'm competing against people who are bi-lateral double amputees below the knee, who have, from below the knee up, full function.
It's like competing against seven athletes who are doping, in a sense, when you're at that big of a disadvantage.
It's hard to see that the system is fair when you take an athlete that's borderline of the 6/7 category and turn them into an S8.
Even so, she won gold in the women's 50-meter freestyle S8.
Great Britain's Swimming Sensation Ellie Simmonds was described by Paul Hayward in the Telegraph as "billboard star of Britain’s paralympic team." Here she sets a world record to win her second gold medal of the Games in the women's 200-meter individual medley SM6.
The Armless Archer Takes Silver Skip to the 1:25 mark in the video below to see Matt Stutzman — the Armless Archer, who, yes, competes without the use of his arms — in his silver medal winning performance.
Taking a Bite Out of the Opening Ceremonies And we might as well go back to the beginning. Writing for The New York Times wheelchair racer Joshua George said: "Unlike in the rest of the developed world, the [opening] ceremony was not broadcast in the United States, and it did not make a big splash in major American newspapers. It is a shame, really." You can however watch it on YouTube. Three hours and 19 minutes in you can see (and hear) what happens when the entire audience takes bites out of apples. Also, note the presences of both Ian McKellen and Stephen Hawking.
Bonus Other stars include hand cyclist Alex Zanardi, the former Formula 1 driver who lost both his legs in a crash, and Sophie Christiansen, an equestrian with cerebral palsy, who won three medals at the games, which The Guardian explained yesterday is "a feat no one else in the ParalympicsGB team has yet managed at these Games."