ParalympicsGB silent on BBC Winter Paralympics blow


The charity that manages Britain’s Paralympians has refused to criticise the BBC after the broadcaster admitted it would provide no live coverage of the Winter Paralympics on any of its four TV channels.

The BBC is boasting that it will offer its “most comprehensive coverage in Winter Olympic history” of the Vancouver 2010 Winter Olympics, which last from 12 to 28 February, including 160 hours of TV coverage.

But the BBC has no plans for live TV coverage on its four channels of the tenth Paralympic Winter Games– taking place between March 12 and March 21 at the same venues.

A BBC Sport spokesman said it had “provisional” plans to “stream” the Paralympic curling live through the BBC Sport website and the digital TV “red button”, but only if the British team make it through to the medal rounds.

And there will be a one-hour highlights programme the day after the Games end, on BBC Two.

The BBC spokesman blamed “budget restrictions and the time zone factor” for the decision.

A ParalympicsGB spokeswoman said the Games would receive more coverage than the Turin Games four years ago, and that “any questions over the amount of coverage should be directed to the BBC”.

When asked whether ParalympicsGB was happy with the BBC’s plans, she declined to comment.

Meanwhile, ParalympicsGB has announced a 12-strong team for the Games, with six sit-skiers, a visually-impaired skier and five wheelchair curlers set to compete alongside about 600 other athletes from 44 countries.

The Games will feature wheelchair curling, alpine skiing, nordic skiing (biathlon and cross-country skiing) and ice-sledge hockey, although the British team will only compete in alpine ski-ing and curling.

Despite finishing fifth in last year’s world championships, the wheelchair curling team of Michael McCreadie, Tom Killin, Angie Malone, Aileen Neilson and Jim Sellar have a strong chance of a medal. McCreadie, Killin and Malone were part of the team that won silver at the last Games in Turin.

McCreadie, who will skipper the side, said he would lead a “truly world class” team that had “worked extremely hard to get back into winning ways”.

Britain can also boast a genuine medal prospect in alpine ski-ing, with Sean Rose winning downhill gold at the first World Cup event of the year last weekend.

Rose said: “My first Paralympics in Turin were a great experience and it is fantastic now to be going to Whistler (the Olympic and Paralympic ski-ing venue) with real medal potential.

“All the hard work in the summer has paid off. I had a great start to the season, am on good form, and I’m really looking forward to the main event.”

The other sit-skiers are two-time Paralympian Russell Docker, and four newcomers: Talan Skeels-Piggins, Anna Turney, Jane Sowerby and Tim Farr.

The skiing team is completed by another Paralympic debutant, Kelly Gallagher, who is visually-impaired and will compete with her guide, Claire Robb.

4 February 2010

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