With Glowing Hearts In Canada

By Gary Norris Gray, BASN Staff Reporter
Updated: March 16, 2010

CALIFORNIA (BASN) — On Friday March 12th, Governor General of British Columbia , Michelle Jean welcomed athletes from 144 counties to the X Paralympics Winter Games.

The games opened with blind singer and former Paralympian Terry Kelly of Canada belting out the Canadian National Anthem, “O’Canada.” What a wonderful song. It is full of national pride and unity without the male machismo.

The NBC sports network again reneged on their obligation to telecast the Paralympics Games. If fans want to see the games they will have to find their NBC Universal Sports Channel.

The issue of obtaining advisers and profits are at the bottom of NBC’S decision. Please call your local cable company for the correct channel. In the Bay Area, California , it’s channel 187.

This is a channel that is shared with another network so they Bay Area will receive limited Paralympics coverage. Universal Sports begin broadcasting each night at 7 pm ET and is repeated on the west coast at 7 pm PT.

This shows that disabled athletes still have to fight to gain respect from mainstream media.

Improvement is evident but it is still a work in progress. The BBC has also scaled back their broadcast these next two weeks.

The Canadian networks (CBC and TSN) are the only networks broadcasting the events live. If Americans can receive the Canadian television feed, they will not miss this year’s games.

The Paralympics opening paid tribute to Terry Fox who established “The Marathon of Hope Across Canada”. Terry tried to walk across Canada from Newfoundland to British Columbia while battling cancer.

His objective was to raising money for other disabled athletes. Fox passed away not making the 3,000 mile trek but his sprite still lives.

Fox captured the hearts and minds of the Canadian people and cause them to focus on disabled athletes something the United States should emulate.

The Paralympic Torch was lit by 15-year-old wheelchair basketball amputee, Zach Beaumont, who befriended Fox.

The Canadian government really put forth the money and the effort to make each event accessible.

Many athletes have stated that of the pass 10 winter games, the venues at Whistler Mountain are wheelchair friendly. Within hours after the Vancouver games ended building crews started constructing ramps, guard rails, and adaptive equipment for these special athletes.

The Canadian government had watched the previous winter games and consequently made improvements immediately after the Olympics Games ended. They did not wait for the non-disabled athletes to vacate the Olympic premises.

The first gold medal was awarded to Russian Irek Zaripov in the 2.9 kilometer pursuit. Andy Soule won the bronze, the first medal for the Americans.

The Russian Federation currently leads the medal count with a total of 10 and the Ukraine currently second with six medals.

The Canadian skiing star that was denied a place in the Olympic Games Brian McKeever, wins Canada ‘s first gold medal Saturday night in 40 kilometers race before the weather stop the event.

The U.S. curlers come back on Germany after American were down 4-0 before the Germany wins 5-4. So there is hope for this team. The Canadian team currently is undefeated and will move on to the second round.

Wheelchair Curing is fairly new and a growing sport in the disabled community. Four years ago in Turino , Italy the crowds enjoyed the competition.

There are three major differences in Paralympics curling.

1. There must be one female on each team.

2. A game lasts eight ends instead of 10.

3. There are no sweepers.

This is the biggest difference in the Paralympics game. No sweeping means that athletes have to be very precise when throwing their stones because adjustments to the trajectory of the stone cannot be changed once it leaves the throwers hand.

Equipment

Wheelchair curlers have to throw their stone seated in a stationary wheelchair and can choose to throw the stone by hand or push it with a delivery stick. The delivery stick is fixed with a bracket on one end that fits over the handle of the stone.

The weather one again has played havoc with the skiing venues with deep dense fog and rain as it was a month ago with the Olympic Games.

The committees have rescheduled these events.

Some of the events the next two weeks in Vancouver will be Alpine Skiing, Biathlon, Cross Country Skiing, Ice Slege Hockey, and Wheelchair curling.

Each player must be certified and classified by their respective counties then reviewed by the Paralympics committee that they are disabled.

There are eight different classes from disabled ambulatory to wheelchair bound. The committee places them in their correct class. Yes, drug testing will be done but the committee have to make allowances for specific drugs that the contestants require for their condition.

So, enjoy the Paralympics games if you can find them. Also, we send a special thanks to the 2010 Winter Paralympics website (www.vancouver2010.com/paralympic-games) for the information.