When I consider some of the moments which ignited a spark in me and drove me towards a career in sports, I think back to those early photos I have of my father competing in the 1984 New York Paralympics. He’s a huge inspiration in my life and in my career – without him I wouldn’t have got into wheelchair tennis. My Dad is also a wheelchair tennis player who enjoyed a 25 year career and is still playing now. Those photos are so important to me – I can’t help wondering if any of his games exist on video. It would have been amazing to have his legacy preserved in video – Not just for me, but for other would-be athletes too.
My Dad won a bronze medal in the L3 100m at the 1984 New York Paralympics but eventually settled into a lifelong career as a tennis player. From the age of 11 he has been my coach, but my obsession with the sport started much earlier than this.
I first picked up a racket when I was 3 while in Israel while my Dad was taking part in a tournament. The games were recorded for broadcast so I’m told, but I have no idea if any of the footage still exists. Once again, I would have loved to see my Dad in action at those games.
These days thankfully, there’s plenty of video available. I use video as a key training method. All of our training sessions and matches are recorded so I can analyse the game and work on how to improve technique and strategy. When I know I am coming up against a tricky competitor, I go back and watch videos of the games we have played together – as well as matches they’ve played against other competitors. Being able to access a huge range of games allows me to see how my opponents have evolved and improved their game. Using video is an invaluable resource for my development within wheelchair tennis.
London 2012 was a huge high for me, and I enjoyed every minute of the media hype around the whole event. As well as competing in the women’s doubles and being the first British woman to win a Paralympics bronze medal in my sport, I spent a lot of time watching my fellow sportsmen and women compete. The buzz of the London Paralympics was nothing like my previous experience in Beijing in 2008. It felt like the UK was really behind the Paralympics. All the different sports I went to see were in front of sold out audiences, full of supporters. Over 2.5 million tickets were sold for the games – 900,000 more than Beijing.
At the London 2012 Paralympics a deal with YouTube meant that the games could be accessed live on a global scale, and Channel 4, who bought the UK rights for a record £9m to broadcast the event, delivered the action and the energy into everyone’s living room every evening. Quite rightly they received high praise for their superb coverage.
Having so much choice on so many devices – either live or catch up, made it feel like the 2012 Paralympics were fully represented.
Whether watching it live, or playing the archive footage back, the coverage from the Paralympics in London inspired a generation of people – both disabled and able bodied, to get involved in sports. Rio 2016 was even bigger – with more than 4300 athletes from 159 nations, plus two refugees in an independent team. The broadcast events allowed over 3.8 million people around the world to enjoy the Rio Paralympics, the largest audience to date.
It’s great to know that the Paralympics have now become a regular highlight in the sporting calendar – with availability across major networks worldwide. Good to know also that as we make sporting history at these events, that the coverage is archived – in this case by Channel 4, and then made available to search via Imagen at clip sales company Screenocean.
It’s a shame I am not able to see my Dad in action when he was a Paralympian, but I will be able to look back at my own performances for years to come. Wheelchair tennis has taken me around the world many times and has enabled me to meet some amazing people. I hope the huge amount of exposure to live and legacy disability sports content will inspire others to get out there and try something new.
Jordanne Whiley MBE
Imagen allows sports rights holders to fully realize the commercial value of their content and expand their markets – to deliver a vast library of legacy and near live content to a new audience in new territories.
Imagen’s Global Distribution Network technology uses public cloud infrastructure and replicates media libraries to any number of strategically positioned PoPs around the globe. It enables broadcast quality files to be delivered from the closest PoP in the fastest time possible. It’s a premium performance for premium sports content, allowing high value customers to search entire video libraries in seconds, playback proxies, create edits, run workflows and download high resolution content – all through a branded, highly secure web platform.