Pick of the week – Inside Incredible Athletes.

Pick of the Week

(For Brits only, unfortunately)

Inside Incredible Athletes – 4OD

A programme documenting some of the adaptations, histories and preparations of people hopeful to compete in the London 2012 Paralympic Games, narrated by my favourite English actor at present, Tom Hardy ("You’ve got to dream a little bigger, dahhhling").

This merits a whole blog entry in itself. It is an awe inspiring programme following a swimmer with cerebral palsy, two members of the wheelchair rugby team, a horse rider whose muscles never developed in his limbs (and he is so good at dressage he competes and beats able bodied athletes), the captain of the blind football team and two sprint athletes. The whole programme follows them in their training, their stories of why they are disabled and some of the physiological assessment of their injuries.
Wheelchair Rugby is a particular example of being eye wateringly brutal – one of the players, playing in a tournament in Germany, collided with another player, but continued to play. When he got back to England a couple of days later, he went to hospital, and he found that the collision had broken his sternum, seven ribs, and bruised his heart. He was in intensive care for three days and in hospital for three months!
However, as he had dislocated his sixth vertebra which squashed his spinal cord against his seventh, which meant while he could feel his arms, he was completely numb from his chest down.

These rugby players have to have superhuman strength to play – most people would think that as they are disabled, they can’t reach the same levels of energy and strength as able bodied players but this simply isn’t true. Their bodies and their minds adapted and the power and strength they can produce equals if not surpasses that produced by able bodied athletes.

The most incredible story was that of the blind football team and their captain. Blind from birth, he nonetheless ‘sees’ via sound; the slightest sound he can use to aid his spatial perception, and having been blind from birth, this sight – he says that the sounds do form a visual impression of his world and his place in it – has given him flawless spatial perception. He has been playing for 15 years, has scored 106 goals in competitions. The ball has a rustling sound, like a crisp packet, and from this and each other the game is effectively played with sonar. Yes, Daredevil is a bad film that is actually demonstrating something really awesome. The part at the end where they are playing in the British Museum maybe contrived for an advertisement, but at the end of the day a football in a museum is asking for trouble but none (thankfully) arrived. Playing in the Egyptology room with statues sticking out all over the shop is especially demanding of perfect skill.

I like watching the Paralympics and other disabled athletics competitions because unlike in the regular competitions, it means so much more for the athletes to be there. I’ve never seen a paralympian get in a strop with the officials or worse, decide they also count for points in Kickboxing. As well as that, its a much more even playing field – there is no guarantee that one nation will win a particular event (though Australians are a bit too much of a shoo-in for the Wheelchair Rugby) which to me, makes a lot of the Olympics a bit boring. If every event shoo in was like watching a Usain Bolt of that sport, then alright, but it isn’t. It’s just dull, and often bent. The Paralympics is completely different in its attitude, its history and its sense of hope and festival, and I think more people should remember that the Olympics doesn’t finish after the last able bodied 100 metre relay race (won by America if they don’t muck it up) is run.

Aha, I’ve found the whole episode on youtube, so I hope everyone can watch it! All copyright goes to Channel Four, obviously and all that.

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7 thoughts on “Pick of the week – Inside Incredible Athletes.”

  1. Thank you for posting this…!
    I’ve been looking foward to watching this program for months ’cause it can’t be played in my country.
    How can I watch that YouTube video? It says it’s private video.
    Would you be kind to share it with others..?

    1. D:
      You can’t see it?
      I didn’t know Channel Four did that ‘you can only see it in england thing’.
      Mmmm, let me have a look…
      ..
      Alright, it’s doing it to me as well now. -.-

      4OD’s documentary channel on youtube appears to have removed the video, leaving only the first trailer (which I have up there) and the opening sequence, here:

      The only other place I found it was on Channel Four’s website, which you might have more trouble with outside the UK but it’s probably worth a try.
      http://www.channel4.com/programmes/inside-incredible-athletes

      It’s really good! Depending on where you’re from I know they sell their shows to other networks (a lot of documentaries in NZ when I was there, funnily enough) but I hope you can see it on the site or it comes to you soon!!
      Tell me if you can or can’t see it 🙂

  2. Thank you for your reply…!
    As to the trailer, I had seen it and enjoyed it very much but it was months ago.
    And Channel 4 website was the first place I’ve tried when I first knew about this program but this site did nothing good for me ever since my first visit.
    There are disabled ones in my family and we all really want to see this program, which I’m sure so interesting and encouraging to all of us!
    I’ve even tried some site for DVD of this program but it didn’t seem they have released any DVD product yet.
    Thanks again for your warm heart replying me on this.
    Much appreciated…!
    Just hope to find some sites or any media to watch this show…!

    1. Awe, sorry. It does make sense that you would have already looked there! Which country do you live in, if I may ask? All I can think of is that some broadcasters at home (if they have deals with the BBC and stuff) might be able to get hold of it, or emailing C4 to see if they would release it on DVD. If you lived in the US or Australia or NZ, there might be some sort of channel with it on because they have deals between the networks. Do some of your family members know or are part of any groups where it might be more powerful for them to cajole Channel Four into releasing it?

      I mean, if this show has gone around the world and people are looking for it, I definitely think they should at least consider putting it back on youtube, if not enabling it to be seen around the world.

      The only other things I found on it were reviews, and this other wordpress blog: http://inspiremagazineuk.wordpress.com/2010/09/02/inside-incredible-athletes-how-theyve-achieved-despite-disabilities/

  3. Ha ha….I don’t think I have that kind of members in my family. I wish I had…!
    Thank you for all the things you’ve gone through for me.
    It’s always good to know there’s someone who cares…!
    I might email C4 and ask them if there’s anyway for the numerous people in Asia to watch this show.
    Thanks for the link, too. It’s good to read but I like your post more…!!
    Take care.

    1. Awe ):
      I hope Channel four put it up quickly!
      If your country are putting together a team for the Paralympics (which I hope they are!) they might have a copy of it or be interested in getting a copy of it too? I have just emailed the British Paralympic Association asking them if they could ask Channel Four to put it back on youtube. Hopefully they’ll get back to me soon 🙂

  4. Hi, I just got an email from CH4 saying that there’s no way to watch this show if you’re not in UK or Ireland. They said there are no current plans to extend the service to other countries.
    But I heard a say there’ll be a video of this show coming our in the new year.
    So I get my finger crossed on that.
    Thank you again for your concern…!
    Much appreciated….!

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