DANIEL OYEBAMIJI | BCOMS SOCIAL MEDIA LEAD
We are just beyond the halfway point at the Paralympic Games, so the perfect time to highlight long-time BCOMS member, Jordan Jarrett Bryan, and gain a better understanding on what these games are all about.
Currently reporting on these games for Channel 4, Jordan has done a tremendous job in using his platform to elevate the interest in para-athletes and the Paralympic Games as a whole. In this sit-down interview by BCOMS Social Media Lead, Daniel Oyebamiji, we learn more about what it is to be a para-athlete competing at these games, as well as the need for an increased awareness surrounding these games from a participation and viewership perspective.
Daniel Oyebamiji (DO): For those that are new to Para Sports what would you say are the must watch events at the Paralympics?
JORDAN JARRETT-BRYAN (JJB): “I think it’s like the Olympics with the big three – Athletics, Swimming and Cycling. Those are the three biggest sports within the Paralympic family. I might be a bit biased, having competed in this one, but Wheelchair Basketball is another sport not to miss because whenever people watch it for the first time they are always fascinated and excited by it. I’m also a massive fan of Wheelchair Tennis and Boccia – which is like bowls. Taekwondo which is a new sport and Blind Football is also fascinating to watch.”
DO: What do you think will be the legacy of the Tokyo 2020 Paralympics?
JJB: “The first thing is I hope that people are impressed with the world-class sporting action. This is not the time to pity watch disabled people, this is elite sport. The way I’ll be reporting on this year’s games is the same way I would report anything else. I’m not going to differentiate between a Paralympian and a Premier League footballer, if you perform well, you’ll get praised and if you flop, you’ll be criticised. I think we need to treat these games like any other elite sporting event, we don’t give a pass to anybody else so I’m not going to give someone a pass because they are disabled.
“The second thing we need to see is more on a wider societal level, which is highlighted in Channel 4’s advert for the Paralympics which combines the sporting excellence of these athletes with the day-to-day realities of being disabled in Britain. Such as basic things like some shops not having ramps which means some disabled people can’t access to the shop because they can’t get their chair up and down the curb.
“The legacy of these games should be that the lives of disabled people are still harder than they need to be and as a society we need to reflect that in how we treat disabled people. People are Paralympians for two weeks after that they go back to their normal lives like everyone else, but their lives are harder because we often overlook the needs of disabled people. First and foremost I hope the legacy of the Paralympics is impressing people with how good they are as athletes, but also as a society we respect and acknowledge the needs of those people as well.”
DO: How do you think Para athletes deal with the Pressure of competing at the highest level and being disabled?
JJB: “I don’t think that para-athletes feel the extra pressure of being disabled, because you don’t think about being partially sighted or having one leg, it’s just part of who you are. In some instances being a Paralympian is harder than being an Olympian, because there is less funding which means that the financial rewards are significantly less than Olympians.
“Also the money required to be a Paralympian is more because a lot of the sports require certain things that their equivalents don’t require in the Olympics. For example, Tennis at the Olympics, if you’re a Tennis player at the Olympics the only piece of equipment you need is a racket and balls but if you’re a Wheelchair Tennis player you’re going to need a £10,000 wheelchair as well. That is something that the Paralympic Wheelchair Tennis player will have to think about that an Olympic Tennis player doesn’t. That means that there is an extra expense added and also that you are also earning less because Paralympians earn less than Olympians.
“This is why Paralympians deserve so much respect, because they have to spend more to earn less and they still give as much commitment and dedication as Olympians do. I think for the Paralympians competing it’s more about their love for their sport and giving everything towards it and I think being disabled doesn’t really come into their minds as far as I’m aware.
DO: Do you think there is enough awareness in the UK for people to get involved in Para sports?
JJB: “I think the awareness about Paralympic sports is lacking for certain groups of people most notably for women and ethnic minorities. If you look at the whole of Paralympics GB, how many black people do you see? There’s not many. There are certain sports that are male dominated, and we must ask why is that? I think more work needs to be done by Paralympic GB to engage in communities in parts of the country that are not as involved in Para sports.
“I think they do a good job for certain groups, but they don’t do as good of a job attracting people from other groups. I think the legacy of these games needs to be, ‘will the Paralympic GB team at the Paris 2024, look more reflective of the disabled population in Great Britain?’ I think 20% of the UK is disabled but you’ve only got two in 13 of the men’s basketball squad that are people of colour.”
To learn more about Jordan Jarrett-Bryan follow him on his socials: Twitter – @_JordanJBryan & Instagram @Jordanjarrettbryan