Featuring fresh takes and real-time analysis from HuffPost's signature lineup of contributors
Chris Holmes

GET UPDATES FROM Chris Holmes
 

Record TV Audiences and a Nation Smiling: You Are Experiencing the London 2012 Paralympic Games

Posted: 08/09/2012 00:00

It's only a week since the opening ceremony burned into our consciousness and yet as individuals, as a nation, we have travelled such a distance. Hawking heralded hope, possibility and looking beyond ourselves and our universe to what we could be, what we could achieve. 164 national Paralympic committees marched into our stadium and the games began.

And what a Games it has been so far! We learned that the same aforementioned opening ceremony attracted well over 11 million viewers, a Channel 4 10-year record. In terms of viewing, the sport has also pushed well in excess of anything seen before in this nation in terms of Paralympic sport.

So to the pool, and we have to talk about that noise, that physical force coming at you whenever a Brit steps out onto the deck. Never more so than for Ellie Simmonds. Her first race marvellous, the noise massive. At 200m how could she win, how could she do it but she kept coming, she kept on coming and the crowd, the united physical Paralympic force behind her kept on growing. Down the final length, could we hold it as individuals, could the pool hold it, and powering through the gold was hers. Two days later she returned for another stellar performance, her final turn pushed the crowd onto new levels and I imagined sitting rooms around the country were in no need of their armchairs, a nation on its feet roaring for Walsall's finest. Again powering away she made the gold her own and had it presented by the Prime Minister.

What of the track, well, what about that? Some 80,000 packing it out for some Paralympic moments which would shape the games, which would shape us all. Men's 200M Oscar on the start but at the thrilling finish the race went to the Brazilian Olivera. And that is the fundamental truth of Paralympic sport, the fundamental truth of all sport, the single way to win a race is to cross the line first.

The same evening we had that 5,000 feeling again as David Weir sprinted home to a roar at least as loud as for Mo three weeks earlier.

At the velodrome another 'Storey' unfolded for Paralympic swimmer-turned-cyclist, Sarah. She eats up training and in London she ate up the track nailing gold after gold after gold. Her ability, her talent, is boundless - bright, brilliant performance.

So what of the games in total? The largest number of athletes from the largest number of nations, 164. The largest broadcast coverage across the UK and across the world. Last Thursday all the front pages, the same on Friday, the same on Saturday bar one and the same on Sunday bar one. Paralympics has caught across the nation. New names have been learned, new sports watched, witnessed and appreciated. The Paralympic park full, full of smiling happy people, friends, family, toddlers, teenagers and all and every person else. One big smile over East London, one big smile across our land. The Paralympics has arrived. It continues to excite, to inspire, to engage, to connect.

Keep watching, keep supporting, keep roaring for our Great British Paralympians and the Paralympians of the world, in our city, in our country, inspiring the world.

Chris Holmes MBE is currently a guest blogger on Freeview.co.uk taking a look at the TV highlights from the Paralympic Games

 
FOLLOW UK SPORT