The difference between the winning times in the men’s 50m freestyle swimming finals at the 2012 London Olympics and Paralympics was just 3.79 seconds.
At the London Games in July, Frenchman Frances Manaudou won gold in the 50m with a time of 21.34 seconds.
At the Paralympics last week, Australian Matt Cowdrey won gold in 25.13 seconds. Cowdrey’s time was a new Paralympics world record. It was just a touch over four seconds slower than the Olympic world record of 20.91, set by Brazil’s Cesar Cielo in 2009.
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We’re all loving the Paralympics this week, and trotting out the platitudes and clichés like they’re going out of style. Yes, that was a deliberate use of cliché.
Truth is, sometimes there is a place for platitudes. When you watch a bloke like Matt Cowdrey, who overnight swam the 50m freestyle with one arm in a time less than five seconds slower than the able-bodied world record, there’s not much else to say except what a wonderful, brave competitor the bloke is.
The ABC is to be congratulated for showing over 100 hours of Paralympic action, which is a damn sight better than America’s rights-holder NBC, which is showing just four one-hour delayed highlights packages across the full 11 days of Paralympic competition. Way to pay tribute to the 20 Iraq and Afghanistan veterans on the team. But we shouldn’t feel too self-satisfied about the Australian public’s enthusiasm for this event.
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Oscar Pistorius, the usually smiling South African, has come across as embittered and petty today.
A quick recap. Overnight, the South African “Blade Runner” became the fade runner. Pistorius had won the T44 200m at the last two Paralympics, but was mowed down in the final few metres. He then sharpened a few blades of his own.
The South African, who also competed at the London Olympics, claimed that his conqueror, Brazilian Alan Oliveira had an unfair advantage due to oversized carbon blades which allow a greater stride length.
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The Paralympic Games begin in London tomorrow night, without any of the fuss or media fanfare which accompanied the Olympics at the beginning of the month.
Disabled athletes are being robbed of the spotlight. Olympic broadcasters Foxtel and Channel Nine are not even showing the Paralympics, leaving the ABC to run a few hours of daily highlights instead.
Our Paralympians must be used to being ignored and undervalued. At the televised Olympic swimming trials earlier this year, disabled athletes were forced to compete during the ad breaks. How insulting is that?
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