A feature-length, prime-time television documentary will paint a remarkable portrait of some of Britain’s top Paralympic athletes.
Inside Incredible Athletes portrays the disabled sports stars – including footballer David Clarke, equestrian Lee Pearson and wheelchair rugby player Steve Brown – as obsessive, super-fit and incredibly skilful.
The Channel 4 documentary will be shown on Sunday 29 August, two years to the day before the opening ceremony of the London 2012 Paralympics.
Brown, a member of Britain’s wheelchair rugby squad, tells how he first encountered the sport while receiving treatment at the National Spinal Injuries Centre at Stoke Mandeville hospital.
He describes how he came from the hospital where “everybody’s doing everything for you because it’s such a struggle” to a wheelchair rugby training session where disabled people were “smashing the s*** out of each other in their wheelchairs”.
He says: “They were angry, they were aggressive, they were violent, they were screaming, they were shouting. Human traits that I hadn’t even seen for two months, let alone see anyone in a wheelchair ever have.”
Pearson, training hard for his fourth Paralympic games and already the winner of nine dressage gold medals, explains how he controls his horse using movements in just his pelvis, lower back and hips. He competes successfully in events for both disabled and non-disabled riders.
And Clarke, who captains the England blind football team and has scored more than 100 goals for his country, describes how the stereotypes and “automatic assumptions” about blindness tend to vanish when people watch blind football for the first time.
He demonstrates his incredible spatial awareness and how he has a “perfect visual image about how the world is” that allows him to play football so well.
He says he wants to captain the British team at London 2012, which would be his last tournament, and adds: “The prize is there and my god is it worth it.”
This week, Clarke was captaining the England side in the world championships in Hereford. A tense 1-0 victory over Colombia in their final group match secured a semi-final place against Brazil.
Inside Incredible Athletes, Sunday 29 August, 9pm, Channel 4.