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|| News Item: Posted 2008-10-03

Covering The OTHER Beijing Olympics
David McIntyre photographed the Paralympics in Beijing

By David McIntyre

Photo by David McIntyre

Photo by David McIntyre

Qi Shun of China wins the Men's Marathon-T12 division as the capacity crowd looks on during the Beijing 2008 Paralympic Games in Beijing, China on Wednesday, 17 September, 2008.
Well, it has been almost 2 months since the Olympics opened in Beijing, and it seems such a distant memory now that everyone has come...and...GONE!!!

Well, after most of the photographers left to go back home, I had both the pleasure and luxury of staying in Beijing to photograph the Paralympics that take place about 2 weeks after the more famous Olympics end. Many of the same venues are used, but it is a much different and also fun atmosphere.

I had attended and photographed the 2000 Sydney Paralympics ( and remember I had such a good time doing it, that when I knew I could cover this too, my wife suggested I just go ahead and do it, even without any assignments for it. She said that I seemed like a new person after the Sydney games, that I should just go do it again.

Well, I did and am glad I did.

Some of the things I did this time, was come and go as I pleased, and covered sports I mostly had no real idea about from previously, or that I just felt drawn to. Some of those sports are: 5 to a side football (teams made of blind participants playing soccer while wearing eye covers to insure the participants eyes are equally sightless), Wheel Chair Rugby (where there is brutal contact in specially built wheel chairs and lots of crashes, etc.), Wheel Chair fencing, Judo and the Marathon (where the wheel chair participants drove in front of Mao's portrait in Tiananmen Square.

The other nice thing was that there were no huge crowds of Media or Photographers, so you get to a venue, and just find a place to shoot photos from.

I think the thing that was most amazing this time covering the Paralympics, was that the whole Chinese nation was exposed to the disabled in a way they didn't expect, and came away richer from it.

A friend who came from Hong Kong so they could see the 'Bird's Nest' and the 'Water Cube', came away amazed at what the disabled were able to do. They were also moved at how even the last place finishers were cheered on as if they were a Michael Phelps or Usain Bolt.

China had billed these Paralympics as 'Two games, equal billing' and that they did from the Opening Ceremony to the final events. They facilities for the athletes were great, and the hospitality, and crowds. So for those that saw the Olympics, a great time was had. And for the Paralympics, words can't describe the experience.

(David McIntyre is a photographer for Black Star based in China since 1995.)

Related Links:
McIntyre's member page

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