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Paralympics count on team effort to create Paris Games breakout

Messenger Sports

Published: 10:31, 18 May 2024

Paralympics count on team effort to create Paris Games breakout

Photo: Collected

Paralympic organisers, with a cast of compelling athletes and a record-breaking broadcasting deal, are hoping this year's Paris Games can mark a breakout. The 22-sport event, which starts in just over 100 days and will be screened in 160 nations and territories, has long sought wider audiences.

And with Paris 2024 officials promising "iconic" Games with the City of Light as a telegenic backdrop, the stage has been set for the top names in para sport to shine.

They include competitors such as Bebe Vio, an Italian fencer with more than a million followers on Instagram, and the American "armless archer" Matt Stutzman whose technique in firing arrows or driving cars with his feet have made him an internet sensation.

Others include German "blade jumper" Markus Rehm and 18-year-old Japanese wheelchair tennis champion Tokito Oda.

The one para star to break into the mainstream was the since-disgraced sprinter Oscar Pistorius at the 2012 London Olympics.

Becoming a global star would require personality, sporting prowess and institutional support, say experts.

"You need to start a virtuous circle in which all stakeholders play their role," said Magali Tezenas, director general of Sporsora, a French sponsorship management agency.

"The media, sponsors, the institutions, organisers and the athletes who emerge, speak publicly and dare to go into the media," she added.