It is ten years since the Olympic and Paralympic Games came to London. Chris was Director of Paralympic Integration at London 2012 for what he describes as a “golden summer of sport” and the International Paralympic Committee Chairman, Sir Philip Craven, described as “the greatest Paralympic Games ever”.
There will be so many magical moments to remember and celebrate and Chris will be sharing his own recollections on his Facebook page – please do tune in and share your own memories of 2012.
One of those special moments is the anniversary of the first broadcast of ground-breaking Channel 4 film Meet the Superhumans.
Broadcast Partner – Channel 4
All the UK broadcasters had been keen to cover the Paralympic Games, and had all offered serious production schedules and equally serious financial packages. So why was Channel 4 chosen to be the Paralympic broadcast partner?
Chris has spoken extensively about the fact that Channel 4 shared his vision of what the Games could be, should be, and – with their support – would be, in the summer of 2012. The ambition was not to nudge the dial or do a little bit better than before, the ambition was to create an entirely new Paralympic Paradigm. Channel 4 understood this.
Meet the Superhumans, was ground-breaking, game-changing, magic for many reasons but that 7 seconds in the middle was absolutely key. 7 seconds in which the more familiar sports marketing images were interrupted to show a military explosion, a neonatal scan, a car crash. Controversial during production, but Chris argues absolutely essential to connect the human to the superhuman.
If you don’t have lived experience of disability it is all to easy to think of disability as disconnected. Other. Not for you. This film needed to make people feel connected. It needed people to feel like the Paralympic Games was for them, for everyone and it worked.
Meet the Superhumans was incredibly successful, award-winning, mind-changing, history-making brilliant TV. And Channel 4 are still doing it. The films produced for Rio and Tokyo are still winning hearts, minds and awards and Channel 4, the nation’s Paralympic broadcaster, has now broadcast thirteen hundred hours of Paralympic broadcast. Every moment a moment to cherish, a moment to inspire change.
An entirely new Paralympic Paradigm.
“EXACTLY TEN YEARS AGO…. July 17th 2012. We had sold all the Paralympic tickets. We needed a massive moment to drive broadcasting audiences in the hundreds of millions. July 17 2012 9PM we showed a film on 76 of the UK TV stations….”Lord Chris Holmes, July 2022
London 2012 Exhibition at the Olympic Park
In collaboration with the London Legacy Corporation, the Lee Valley VeloPark and supported by the Heritage Lottery Fund the Paralympic Heritage Trust has created an an amazing exhibition that celebrates the history of the British Paralympic Movement, bringing stories of human endeavour to life.
The National Paralympic Heritage Trust was established in July 2015 to protect and share British Paralympic Heritage. The Trust runs a Heritage Centre at Stoke Mandeville Stadium, Aylesbury, Buckinghamshire as well as touring exhibitions at sporting and heritage events across Britain. The Trust is also involved in cataloguing the Paralympic collection, important work that is still in progress with a collection of well over 10,000 items. Some of these items are on display at the exhibition.
Chris visited the exhibition with Trust CEO Vicky Hop-Walker who talked him through the exhibition and the various exhibits, including a jacket from the Paralympic opening ceremony and the cycling gloves and shoes worn by para-cyclist Neil Fachie when he won gold. The opening ceremony jacket was designed by international costume designer Tahra Zafar and is decorated with text from the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, which was a central theme of the Paralympic opening ceremony. One of the petals that made up the Olympic and Paralympic Cauldron at the London 2012 Games is also displayed. The petals, designed by Thomas Heatherwick, represent each participating nation, 204 for the Olympics and 164 for the Paralympics. The exhibition is completely free and open to the public throughout August and September.
From Paralympics to Parliament
One of the phrases being promoted in this anniversary year is ‘Pass the Baton’. Chris is passionate about maintaining the legacy of the Paralympic Games and one of the ways in which he continues working to promote diversity, inclusion and accessibility is through his work in Parliament. He is one of a small group of ex-Olympic and Paralympic athletes who are active in the House of Lords. Lord Campbell, Baroness Tanni Grey-Thompson, Baroness Masham, Lord Moynihan and Chris talk about their Paralympic experiences and how it informs their work in the Lords in this video produced by the House of Lords to mark the Tokyo Games. Chris particularly highlights his hope that the London 2012 Paralympic Games helped to transform opportunities for and attitudes towards disabled people.