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Paralympics finally hit media spotlight

With six days to go at the London Paralympics, they are already being hailed as the best on many levels. Turning media attention towards the feats of the disabled athletes is considered the major breakthrough.

­Massive international sporting events always attract armies of spectators and, hence, the world’s media.

However, the second part of the Summer Games, the Paralympics, have usually been less popular with viewers at home, to say the least.

But that was before the London 2012 organizers managed to raise that bar and further bolster interest in this year’s games.

“The Paralympic Games have been growing ever since 1960, with the Beijing Games were supposedly the best yet,” Craig Spence, the International Paralympic Committee’s director of communications, told RT. “We’ve been working for seven years with the LOCOG [London Organizing Committee for the Olympic Games] here. It’s not just an IPC effort, there’s many partners involved in delivering the hopefully there most successful Paralympic Games ever. It’s been great activation by all the sponsors here – every single sponsor of the Olympic Games has done a Paralympic Games-specific campaign.”

Attention from the home media on Russian Paralympic athletes is largely absent and only peaks slightly, once every two years when the time comes for either Summer or Winter Games.
So interest in Team Russia from the foreign media certainly comes as a surprise for the country's delegates.

“We've spent a week here now, and I can tell you for sure that we have never come across such an explosion of attention from different media,”
Pavel Rozhkov, chief of Russia’s mission in London, stressed. “And many of our athletes just don't quite know how to act in this situation. On the other hand, it is vital for our Paralympic sport. The more people hear about our success, the more athletes may want to join us.”

At the moment it will probably be hard to find someone who doubts that the level of competition at the Paralympics sometimes exceeds that of the able-bodied Olympics.

Starting with the opening ceremony, London's athletic spectacle has proved that such high-profile events are interesting not only to sports lovers, but sponsors and the world press as well.

Never before have the Paralympics reached such a wide audience, with the London Games already setting several marks.

Besides the record-breaking ticket sales, it looks like the 2012 event will be the most watched in history, with coverage extending to over 100 countries.