New Zealanders across the country were up at all hours watching our Olympians win gold in London. When it came to the Paralympics, a highlights package had to suffice.
There was no live television coverage of the event in New Zealand and former Paralympic gold medallist Dave McCalman believes that needs to change in four years time.
McCalman, who won athletics gold in Barcelona and Sydney and silver in Atlanta, said the reception for the athletes at Auckland Airport yesterday had exceeded his own experiences, but the public had been starved of action during the Games.
"There's been a lapse of media coverage. That's the reason I think why there's been more of an appetite from the general public because they want more of these athletes than they're getting."
McCalman said the television coverage had been "disappointing" and he rubbished the excuse that there was not a large enough audience to justify the cost.
"You really see the human endeavour and sometimes with professional athletes you don't see that.
"With the Paralympics it's raw and it's natural. I think it's got a place in global sport and I think people aren't being exposed to it. In some ways I think they don't know what they're missing because they just haven't seen it.
"The Paralympics have some fantastic human stories and the human spirit motto is probably right on the money."
Despite a haul of 17 medals from London, McCalman believed the potential for the Kiwis in Rio de Janeiro was even greater.
"The bike programme and the swimming programme have obviously been successful but this is the first time that New Zealand hasn't had an athletics medal in a Paralympic team so there's work to be done there.
"Boccia (a sport similar to bowls) needs to be developed again and then we've also got wheelchair rugby, who were unlucky not to go this year. Sure we got a lot of success, but there's so much potential for the future."
And McCalman's hope is that New Zealanders will get the chance to watch that potential come to fruition on the biggest stage.
- © Fairfax NZ News
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