Paralympics 2012 – Georgie Bingham: you’ve never seen sport like this before

The Channel 4 and talkSPORT presenter talks about swatting up on Boccia and being bowled over by blind football

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Georgie, covering the Paralympics is something quite new for you. Are you excited?

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Well, to be honest before I was really envious of all the BBC staff doing the Olympics! But now I’m really excited that I’m at the forefront of something that has never really been done before on this scale. If anywhere is going to embrace the Paralympics it’s going to be Great Britain, the place where it all began. I’ve done some pretty cool stuff in my career, but if you can do something that’s a first, that’s always nice.

It must have been a steep learning curve for you. How did you cope with learning about all these different sports?

I was aware of quite a lot of Paralympic sport, but most of us have never been given the opportunity to cover it properly before. Having known for a long time that I was going to be involved, I’ve managed to get myself to events where I can actually see first hand some of the sports I may not have seen before.

There are couple of Paralympic specific sports like Boccia and Goalball that I’d never even heard of until about a year ago, so I’ve had to learn them, but quite a few sports are similar to able-bodied sports, so that wasn’t a challenge. It’s all been quite fun really.

What events do think will make people sit up and go ‘wow’?

Everyone is looking forward to the wheelchair rugby because it’s absolutely vicious. It’s the only sport I think you have a welder as part of your team setup.

Personally I’m also looking forward to the football. I work on talkSPORT on the Premier League, and the Paralympic adaptations of five-a-side blind football is remarkable – I mean the skills those guys have are just bonkers! We’ve had David Beckham and other Premier League footballers going to blind football workshops; when you put a blindfold on those kinds of players you realise how unbelievable our blind football team really is.

Did you get to see Becks pulling on the blindfold?

No, I didn’t sadly, but I did watch the video repeatedly! The thing about Beckham is that he’s one of these people who will just take to anything. He’s a footballer after all and he’s very competitive.

Are you worried people have reached Olympics overload?

I think I’m the only woman I know who could happily watch sport all the time, so I’m not the sort of person to ask about sport overload!

Ah, so do you still get people who think the idea of a female sports journalist is odd?

I don’t feel like it’s my right to work in sport; just like any man who didn’t know their sport, I wouldn’t expect to be in the industry if I wasn’t good enough. Sport is a male-dominated industry. talkSPORT may have quite a blokey lineup, but there are a huge amount of women that work there, too. I don’t feel like I’m the only girl in sport; we just feel like we’re part of the team.

But working for talkSPORT after Andy Gray and Richard Keys turned up must have been odd?

I get asked about work for the same station as Richard and Andy all the time, and I will always say this: Richard and Andy made a mistake. We send people to prison for criminal offences and rehabilitate them, and I think it’s time that people just dropped the whole Keys/Gray thing too. You know, the guys won a Sony award last month because they are absolutely brilliant broadcasters.

What’s going to be different about Channel 4’s coverage compared to the BBC?

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It’s going to have a totally different feel. I think Channel 4 is the perfect home for the Paralympics. Channel 4 can be very alternative, not afraid to stick its neck out. Some of its programming – not the Paralympics – but some of its programming can be pretty controversial sometimes. If any network is really well placed to deal with disability head on instead of cotton wool wrapping it, then it’s Channel 4.