NBC to re-air critically acclaimed Paralympics special on Saturday
The special focuses on eight top athletes and the wheelchair basketball team as they train for and compete in the Beijing Paralympic Games. Among the critics weighing in on the show were a pair of Fabulous Forum bloggers:
NBC is airing a 90-minute documentary directed by Dave Michaels (brother of Al Michaels) on the 2008 Paralympic Games, and there will be no better television (sports or otherwise) on offer this weekend. I promise. -- Diane Pucin
By the end, you find yourself eagerly anticipating the race or game in which the athletes profiled are competing. You will likely cry when you watch some of the segments, but not merely because it is moving to see these Paralympians overcome adversity. You will cry because you share their joy at having hard work and athletic ability result in Paralympic medals or, in the case of the men's basketball team, because you share their disappointment in falling short of their goal. What I saw on NBC makes it abundantly clear that the Paralympics are too good to miss. -- Philip Hersh
This past summer I had the opportunity to interview April Holmes, one of the athletes who is featured in the NBC special. My story was about the ongoing debate over who qualifies as an Olympian.
Holmes bills herself as the world's fastest amputee, based upon her record-setting times in the women's T44 (below-knee amputee) classification for the 100-meter, 200-meter, 400-meter sprints.
Holmes had been a championship sprinter in high school and college. She was injured in a 2001 train accident that resulted in below-knee amputation on her left leg. It didn't take long for Holmes to make the transition to Paralympian.
In 2004 she won a bronze medal in the long jump during the Athens Games. She won a gold medal in Beijing in the 100 meters, finishing in 13.72 seconds -- one one-hundreth of a second before Marie-Amelie Le Fur of France and Wang Juan of China crossed the line. What makes her win even more amazing is that, during a preliminary heat, she fell and was inadvertently stepped on by a competitor.
Though she's a proud Paralympian, Holmes says she feels a great kinship with Olympians -- including coach Al Joyner, who struck Olympic gold during the 1984 Los Angeles Games. Here's what she had to say when I asked her if she considered herself to be an Olympian:
Yes, I believe we are Olympians, I absolutely believe that. We’re part of the family, like brothers and sisters.
NBC's 90-minute special is presented by General Electric, hosted by Bob Costas and produced by the Emmy Award-winning Michaels.
-- Greg Johnson
Photo: April Holmes, right, competes in the Women's 100m-T44 Athletics event on Sept. 14 at Beijing's National Stadium during the 2008 Paralympic Games. Credit: Chris Hyde / Getty Images