Beijing 2008 Paralympic Games

Sunday 7 September, from 1.30pm

The Beijing 2008 Olympic Games may be over for some, but for New Zealand’s Paralympic Games team, the excitement is just starting. Held at the same captivating venues, the Paralympics start on Saturday 6 September and run through to Wednesday 17 September.

New Zealand paralympians have a proud record at these events, considered the world’s second biggest sporting occasion behind the Olympics. Kiwis are represented by 30 athletes in Swimming; Athletics; Boccia; Shooting; Cycling; Powerlifting; and Wheelchair Rugby, many of whom will be defending gold medals won in Athens, including the wheelchair rugby team, The Wheel Blacks.
Paralympics Chef de Mission Duane Kale says the team expect to bring home at least 13 medals: “It’s a big ask, but a reasonable expectation to have.”

“Our whole selection process has been undertaken on medal winning prospects or performances, therefore, any of our athletes going, from what we can determine, based on world rankings and performances, are prospects for returning medals.”

There are unknown factors in terms of how athletes have performed in recent months, he explains, but the biggest unknown will be who could come out of China. “We’ve just seen that demonstrated through the Olympics, they had a huge haul and one would expect that they will have a huge haul again.”

Kale says to watch out for the strong contingent in the Women’s Cycling and individuals such as Tim Prendergast and Matt Slade in Athletics, and Michael Johnson in Shooting, who have delivered medals in previous games.

In the swimming pool, he says 15-year-old Sophie Pascoe, although not proven at a Paralympics, has been a performer on the world stage leading up to the games, and is a strong contender in all her events. The Wheelchair Rugby and Boccia team have both performed well in previous years and are expected to do well again, he says.

TVNZ will have a team of 16 working in Beijing to bring a daily, one-hour highlights programme to TV ONE, presented by Geoff Bryan, with commentators Keith Quinn and John McBeth.

World paralympians look on the Olympics as a dress rehearsal for their event, ensuring everything is running smoothly by the time their competition begins two weeks later.

For executive producer, Chas Toogood, it’s the fifth Paralympic Games he has covered. He says the event gets bigger and bigger each year.

“The number of athletes participating in Summer Paralympic Games has increased from 400 athletes from 23 countries in Rome in 1960, to 3806 athletes from 136 countries in Athens in 2004. This year will see even more.

“The changes since my first Paralympics at the 1992 Barcelona Games have been absurd. Competition levels have risen beyond belief and the improvement in equipment technology is incredible.”

TV ONE’s coverage of the Beijing 2008 Paralympic Games will include:

Sunday 7 September, 1330 to 1430 and 2300 to 0000: Join Geoff Bryan, Keith Quinn and John McBeth as they host coverage from the Opening Ceremony of the Beijing 2008 Paralympic Games.

Monday 8 September, 2300 to 0000: Geoff Bryan presents action from Day One of the Paralympic Games in Beijing, featuring New Zealanders in action in Cycling and Boccia.

Tuesday 9 September, 2305 to 0005: Geoff Bryan hosts highlights from Day Two of the Paralympics in Beijing, including New Zealanders competing in Athletics; Boccia; Swimming; and Cycling.

Wednesday 10 September, 2310 to 0010: Geoff Bryan presents Day Three action from the Paralympic Games with New Zealanders in action in Swimming; Boccia; Cycling; Athletics; and Shooting.

Thursday 11 September, 2330 to 0030: Geoff Bryan presents coverage from Day Four at the 2008 Paralympic Games, including Kiwis competing in action Athletics; Cycling; Boccia; and Swimming.

Friday 12 September, 2300 to 0000: Geoff Bryan hosts action from Day Five at the Beijing Paralympic Games, with Kiwis competing in Athletics; Boccia; Swimming; and Shooting.

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