Heath Francis OAM is an Australian elite athlete with a disability. He represented Australia at the Sydney 2000, Athens 2004 and Beijing 2008 Paralympic Games, winning a total of 13 medals, 6 of them gold.
Francis’ right arm was amputated when he was 7 years old after a mincing accident on his family’s farm in Booral, New South Wales. He competes in the T46 classification in the following sprint events: Men’s 100m, 200m, 400m, 4 x 100m relay and 4 x 400m relay.
The footage of Francis competing at the 'Bird's Nest' in Beijing, taken from multiple angles and including spectacular slow-motion vision, combines beautifully with the roar of the crowd to give viewers an idea of the incredible atmosphere at the Games.
This excerpt from ABC News Canberra, broadcast on 10 September 2008, also features controversial South African sprinter Oscar Pistorius who was the tenth athlete to compete at both the Paralympic Games and the Olympic Games.
The bulletin’s focus on the ‘thrills and spills’ aspect of the competition, including accidents involving USA’s April Holmes and France’s Marie-Amelie le Fur, seems insensitive and sensational. Especially when it is coupled with a cringe-worthy pun on the athletes feeling ‘blue’ while a German athlete called Green wins the women’s 200m T44 race.