Channel 4 presenters sum up their most memorable moment of the Paralympic Games
On the final day of competition and with the Tokyo 2020 Paralympic Closing Ceremony taking place today, Channel 4 presenters detailed their most memorable ‘moment’ of the Games.
Twelve thrilling days of competition in Tokyo has led to a phenomenal medal haul for the ParalympicsGB team and Channel 4 has broadcast over 300 hours on linear television and covered over 1,000 hours of live sports streaming.
Over a third of the television viewing population has been reached and Channel 4’s commitment to producing the best ever coverage for a Paralympic Games has seen over 70% of its on screen team disabled talent, a first for any broadcaster.
Here, the Channel 4 presenting team who have presented from various studio locations in Tokyo, Leeds and London, describe their ‘moment’ of the Tokyo 2020 Paralympic Games.
Clare Balding, presenter: “Sir Lee Pearson winning two gold medals from three events in the Para equestrian, on a horse who had never competed at a major international competition, was a great demonstration of the depth of relationship between Lee and his horses. And he led the team to a surprise gold medal in the team competition and helped inspire those around him to a team victory. This is the best Paralympics I have ever been involved in. It’s a real privilege to have watched how Paralympics coverage has grown and I am so impressed with Channel 4’s commitment. The last twelve days has been a wall to wall advert for Channel 4’s unique model – quite simply this would not have happened if the organisation was purely profit driven.”
Ade Adepitan, presenter: “Paul Karabardak winning his first ever Paralympic medals in the Para table tennis competition after four previous attempts, in what will be his last ever Paralympics. Paul beat the world number one on the way to the team final in the deciding contest – a player he had never beaten before. He also won his silver in the team event with his doubles partner and best friend Will Bayley.”
Arthur Williams, presenter: “Chris Skelley’s 100kg judo gold medal. Chris was my fellow participant on Come Dine with Me on Channel 4 before the Paralympics and he passionately talked a lot about Rio and how he wanted to do better in Tokyo. I watched his contest closely and it felt a real sea change moment for him. He is such a kind, big hearted guy and to see his emotion when he won was wonderful. It was emotional to watch and I am very proud of him.”
Adam Hills, The Last Leg presenter: “My favourite sporting moment of the Games was when David Smith won gold in the Boccia, and there was a moment when you saw the emotion in his eyes as he realised what he had achieved. It was before the tears, before the medal presentation, but after he had been confirmed as the winner. It was five years of hard work, sacrifice, emotion, relief, and joy – all expressed in the blink of an eye. And it made me sob on my couch.”
Alex Brooker, The Last Leg presenter: “In terms of medals, the Wheelchair Rugby gold was my favourite. To be the first European team to win a Paralympic medal is brilliant, but to win gold is incredible. They were so good throughout the tournament and I was delighted all those years of hard work paid off. But I think my ‘moment’ of the Games was Ellie Robinson’s interview after her final race. She is an athlete we can be so proud of. Not only has she excelled at her sport but to talk so emotionally and honestly about her injury struggles really resonated with me. It made me think about my own disability struggles differently and more positively. I told her on the show that few people get to excel at their sport, let alone inspire people the way she has.”
Rosie Jones, The Last Leg presenter: “My favourite moment of the Paralympics has been Sophie Hahn winning gold in the T38 100m final. Sophie has cerebral palsy, like me, and it was incredibly emotional to see someone with the same disability triumphing and showing the world that people with disabilities can achieve anything.”
Josh Widdicombe, The Last Leg presenter: “I’m sure I’m not the only person who found Ellie Robinson’s interview after her racing to be one of the most brilliant and moving things they have ever seen in sport. Sport is about far more than gold, silver and bronze.”
Lee McKenzie, athletics presenter: “Jonnie Peacock’s 100m race summed up everything about sport. The battle was intense. The quality of the race unparalleled. A new champion was created in Germany’s Felix Streng, who moved to London and now works with Peacock’s coach. Even before the race started, the tension was high. In the race, if Jonnie couldn’t have won the gold, then sharing a medal with his rival of over a decade Johannes Floors was perfect. The respect they have for each other is incredible and both have helped raise each other’s performance but also the standard of competition for all. The fact Jonnie had to run faster for bronze then he did to win his two golds is testament to the continued growth of Paralympic sport.”
Ed Jackson, presenter: “Ben Watson, when he pulled up in front of me with a look of pure shock and confusion for an interview after winning a gold medal in his first ever Paralympics on Tuesday in the cycling road race. He hadn’t expected it at all and throughout the interview you could see it sink in, he went through a rollercoaster of emotions ending with pure joy and without me having to say word. It’s a real privilege to share a moment like that with someone in some small way.”
JJ Chalmers, presenter: “The Wheelchair Rugby final was probably the best sporting moment I have ever witnessed live, their sporting achievement stands ahead of any other British team this year. The team has done what no other European side has ever achieved in the sport, and I would argue this is the most contested Wheelchair Rugby competition in Paralympic history, having to beat the four best teams in the world to win gold. I shed a tear when I saw former serviceman Stuart Robinson come off the court because I can personally attest to what it has taken to get where he has, but that will be reflected and felt every athlete in the team.”
Baroness Tanni Grey-Thompson, athletics presenter: “Susannah Scaroni in the women’s T54 5,000m. She went seven laps out and held the lead. I think everyone, including her, was shocked.”
Vick Hope, cycling presenter: “Kadeena Cox’s 500m cycling time trial. After losing her world record last year, the steely focus and dedication, stepping up in the final heat to ride the most blistering race, shaving such an impressive 1.2 seconds off Kate O’Brien’s time for such a quick event, and the grace and pure joy with which she did it, was just electric to see.”
Jordan Jarrett-Bryan, presenter: “Chris Skelley winning gold in the Judo. He’s a pal and I was so glad he won a gold medal after missing out in Rio in 2016. He gave a great interview too – very Skelley-like. I was proud of him.”
Marc Woods, swimming presenter: “Ellie Robinson’s post-race interview at the swimming. Every medal at the Tokyo Aquatics Centre has been keenly fought for but the fight Ellie Robinson had to get to the Paralympics, and her articulation of that fight after her fifth place swim, made it my moment of the Games. It was an honour to hold the microphone for her.”
Sophie Morgan, swimming presenter: “Swimmer Reece Dunn for winning the most medals of any ParalympicsGB athlete at these Games and for showcasing the potential of athletes with invisible disabilities.”
Jeanette Kwayke, athletics presenter: “Daniel Pembroke with his wonderful javelin gold medal. From injury as an able bodied athlete, to his eye condition, to Paralympic gold. He’s a gent.”