ABLE2UK interviews Seb Coe Image credit: sebastian coe

September 8 2011. Tomorrow morning tickets for next year’s Paralympics will go on sale across the world. To mark the occasion Trafalgar Square is hosting International Paralympic Day which gives the public an insight to the 20 sporting events which are planned for the games themselves.

The event will kick off at 7.30am, throughout the day guests will be able to spectate demonstrations led by the 5-a-side Blind Football GB Team, a world record attempt for the longest rally in Sitting Volleyball and displays from the stars of wheelchair Table Tennis, Rowing, Powerlifting and wheelchair tennis.

As well as the sporting activity the event will also see the likes of the Chief Executive of the British Paralympic Association, Tim Hollingsworth, the Mayor of London, Boris Johnson and the person behind London 2012, Seb Coe.

Sebastian Newbold is the proud recipient of eleven world sporting records. In 2007 he was elected vice-president of the International Association of Athletics Federation; he was also a member of the Conservative Party after he retired from athletics in the early nineties.

His current achievement has seen him successfully head the London bid to host the Olympic Games in 2012.

Despite his racing days being put behind him Lord Coe is anything but static today as he completes a new marathon, one that will see him being escorted around Trafalgar Square from the crack of dawn being interviewed by the world press all competing against each other for their few minutes of questions and answers.

ABLE2UK briefly meets Seb in the afternoon so he can write his sentence in a future publication we are working on and we both agree today is neither the time nor place to conduct a full interview. Having agreed to liaise through electronic mail a few days after we ask our followers on Twitter to submit their questions, some of which we put to Seb amongst our own...                                                                                

How will you keep people interested in the Paralympics after the Olympic Games come to a close? (Submitted by @Scope)


I think there is a real interest in the UK for the Paralympic Games. We have a very proud history here as the birthplace of Paralympic sport. In 1948, Sir Ludwig Guttmann organized a sports competition involving World War II veterans with spinal cord injuries in Stoke Mandeville, England.


And as we saw from the public attendance at our recent International Paralympic Day in London’s iconic Trafalgar Square, people want to find out more about Paralympic sport.


People attending the Paralympic Games will see sport like never before – it will be world-class sport in world-class venues. I really think our venues will be filled with enthusiastic sports and that we will give our Paralympic athletes a very warm welcome.

Why are the Paralympics only being shown on Channel 4 where as the main Olympic games will generate more broadcast coverage?


We’re thrilled with having Channel 4 onboard as the Paralympic Games Host Broadcaster in the UK. Paralympic sport has never had this level of exposure in UK. Channel 4 will provide the Paralympic Games and Paralympic sport with the strongest pre-Games broadcast coverage and marketing support it has ever received on UK television. And this will help play a key role in educating and exciting the public about Paralympic sports and Paralympians.

Which athletes do you think will do partially well in the Paralympics?

Well, our ParalympicsGB team has performed extremely well in the last four Summer Paralympic Games, coming second in the medals table. In Beijing alone, ParalympicsGB won 102 medals.  So I am looking forward to seeing our British athletes compete on home soil next year. But the Paralympic Games are also about welcoming the world’s athletes to London and I know that it will be a fantastic spectacle of elite sport.

What plans do you have for getting disabled people excited about the Paralympics?

There will be lots of activity happening over the next year which will ensure that people are engaged with the Paralympic Games – whether it’s more detailed announcements on the Paralympic Torch Relay, volunteers being selected for the Paralympic Games, Paralympic athletes being selected as part of ParalympicsGB; So plenty of opportunities to be inspired by the Paralympic Games and a chance for them to get involved.


      Have you have any personal experience with people with disabilities?

I was in the first school (Tapton School in Sheffield) in the country, and the first class in that school, to integrate 3 children from the local school for the blind (Tapton Mount for the Blind) and went through the next 3 years of school with these children. It was very insightful and made me recognise very early on that these were 3 extraordinary and talented people with skill sets that the rest of the class did not have.


     What do you make of these results from the survey Scope carried out in regards to the games and are you happy with them? (Submitted by @Scope)

I think these are very encouraging statistics and with under a year until the start of the Paralympic Games, it’s great to see such support for the Paralympic Games. We have always said that we wanted to use the Paralympic Games to help change society’s attitudes to disabled people and it’s good to see that so many people think that the Games can have a positive impact on their lives.