March 2014: Sochi Winter Paralympics

We have fond memories of the Olympics and Paralympics in London two years ago. For a summer, our public transport ran more efficiently than ever, Union Jacks were flying proudly everywhere you looked, and people were talking about unheard of sports-Slalom, anyone? The opening and closing ceremonies were broadcast on the BBC to record-breaking audience figures, and the crowds died down for a recess before the Paralympics two weeks later. Channel 4 won the rights to broadcast the Paralympics and launched one of the biggest advertising and social media campaigns in history; ‘Meet the superhumans’ an homage to the stars of the show including Ellie Simmonds, Sarah Storey, and David Weir among others, telling the stories of how they got to the games and demonstrating their strengths.

Because of the strong advertising campaign and the momentum it built, the Paralympic coverage was the highest rated show on Channel 4 in 2012. Previous to this, in Beijing and before, the Paralympics were just a blip on the radar of broadcasters and audiences. As well as becoming the most successful Paralympics in history by viewership, the success of the 2012 games has spawned TV shows including The Last Leg featuring comedians with varying disabilities debating weekly topics, and turned some of the paralympians into household names. The Olympic legacy lives on, as we are now facing the Sochi Paralympic winter games, hoping for the first winter Paralympic gold for team GB. Despite controversy surrounding the venue choice, the games will be shown by Channel 4 again, continuing our appreciation of the underdog. The ‘superhuman’ strength and abilities of our sports personalities demonstrates the ability to achieve against all odds, and inspired a nation to try something new, giving us the attitude ‘If they can do it…so can we’ Long may the legacy continue, reminding us that anything is possible if we try hard enough.