Interview: Comedian Adam Hills on an enlightening and empowering Paralympics ahead of The Last Leg of Tokyo 2020 on Channel 4

The countdown to the Tokyo 2020 Summer Paralympic Games is on and with the Games returns a special season of The Last Leg. Comedian Adam Hills spoke to Lorne Gillies about why this year’s Paralympics is set to be a game changer.

Gold medals, silver and bronze the Olympics has been one of the most exciting, challenging and successful to date – despite challenges due to the pandemic.

As the Olympics prepares to hand the torch over to the Paralympic Games it’s time to prepare for even more adrenaline inducing sporting feats, medals, podiums and competitiveness.

Elite

Most importantly, the Paralympic Games is a chance for disabled and non-disabled people alike to revel in the determination that comes from Paralympic athletes and elite Para sport. And comedian Adam Hills, his co-presenters Alex Brooker and Josh Widdicombe, are set to return (24 August) to discuss all things Para sport during The Last Leg of Tokyo 2020.

“The Paralympics are uplifting anyway; the Paralympics is such a triumph of the human spirit,” enthuses self-confesses Paralympics nerd, Adam. 

“More so than the Olympics because everyone has a back-story and everyone has a hurdle that they’ve dealt with or a disability to adapt to, that is your base level of the Paralympics. 

“Add to this that most of the people have had to train in car parks or on their own at home in lockdown it adds an extra level of difficulty to it. As well as the usual Paralympics are amazing; I think it will be the tonic the world needs.”

Compete

In union with the Paralympics, Adam, Alex and Josh will be put through their paces as they compete across 12 Paralympic sports, filmed over three days. Wheelchair tennis, wheelchair basketball, blind cycling, bind swimming: this is a chance for viewers to get excited for Para sport. 

Adam shares: “It was Alex and Josh as Team GB and me as Team Australia. They set me up with comedians who are not known for their sporting abilities. 

“Of course,” Adam laughs. “They forgot I was massively competitive. Think of the most unlikely comedians and they are the ones who got involved.”

Due to the pandemic, The Last Leg of Tokyo 2020 will look different to previous The Last Leg coverage of the Paralympics. Having covered London in 2012 and Rio in 2016, Adam, Alex and Josh will be based in London with live links to comedian Rosie Jones based in Tokyo.

“In London and Rio we could have Paralympians beside us, when you saw a Paralympian walk into the studio with a gold medal that was really exciting that is going to be pretty hard to achieve when we’re in London and they’re in Tokyo,” expresses Adam.

Despite the challenges that have arose due to the pandemic, from having to film an adapted version of The Last Leg to Paralympians competing in Tokyo without supporters and concerns over safety: Adam is sure that this Paralympic Games will further change the conversation around Para sports and disability.

Conversation

“For me, the real eye opener, and for people at home, these guys work for four years to go to the Paralympics. They don’t have day jobs,” Adam stresses. 

“This is why I love the new Channel 4 promo video for this year. There is a moment where you see a blister being popped and it is gross, but it is a reminder – even for me, I get those blisters.

“Of course every Paralympian has the aches, the bumps and blisters that go along with their disability and they just push through it for four years. 

“What I’ve learned from the Paralympians this year is that everyone has had to adapt to lockdown but Paralympians have had to adapt their training regime, too. 

“This year, there is a lovely moment in the video where the word super is cracked and it just leaves human, it is a reminder that, yes, Paralympians are amazing but they can do that because they work their butts off. 

“London 2012 elevated disability and put it on a pedestal now the circle is back to normalise disability. Paralympian are just like you and I with an incredibly amount of commitment and training. 

“Maybe this Paralympics will make people look at disability different.”

With the opening ceremony of the Tokyo 2020 Summer Paralympic Games taking place on Tuesday 24 August 2021 and an exhilarating number of competitions planned until the closing ceremony on Sunday 5 September, this Paralympics is sure to be special.

Last Leg

And, The Last Leg to Tokyo 2020 will be there every step of the way with live broadcasts from London and links to Tokyo from the opening to closing ceremonies. With a friendly dose of at-home competitions and sporting attempts added in. 

Ahead of the Games, Adam adds: “I always think about what non-disabled people take from the Paralympics, which this year is that they realise Paralympians are Superhumans but they are also human, and disabled people can be superhuman but they are also human. 

“Yes, Paralympians can run 100m in 10 seconds on one leg, but then they also need to have the right access to get into a café or they deal with blisters on a daily basis.

“For disabled people,” Adam considers. “I hope that you can get the power of seeing yourself represented on screen. For me, when I first saw someone with the same part of their foot missing as me and competing at the highest level it empowered me. 

“I hope the Paralympics enlightens non-disabled people and empowers disabled people.”

Don’t miss The Last Leg to Tokyo 2020 airing live on Channel 4 from Tuesday 24 August 2021.

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