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4 London Paralympics 2012 events to watch: How, why and what you should check out



Jessica Long of the United States competes in the Women's 400m Freestyle - S8 Final on day 2 of the London 2012 Paralympic Games at Aquatics Centre on August 31, 2012 in London, England.
Jessica Long of the United States competes in the Women's 400m Freestyle - S8 Final on day 2 of the London 2012 Paralympic Games at Aquatics Centre on August 31, 2012 in London, England.
Clive Rose/Getty Images
Jessica Long of the United States competes in the Women's 400m Freestyle - S8 Final on day 2 of the London 2012 Paralympic Games at Aquatics Centre on August 31, 2012 in London, England.
US swimmer Bradley Snyder gestures to the crowd ahead of the men's 100m freestyle - S11 final swimming event at the London 2012 Paralympic Games at the Olympic Park's Aquatics Centre in east London on August 31, 2012.
Ben Stansall/AFP/Getty Images
Jessica Long of the United States competes in the Women's 400m Freestyle - S8 Final on day 2 of the London 2012 Paralympic Games at Aquatics Centre on August 31, 2012 in London, England.
Paralympic sprinter Jerome Singleton poses for a portrait during the USOC Portrait Shoot at Smashbox West Hollywood on November 16, 2011 in West Hollywood, California.
Harry How/Getty Images for USOC
Jessica Long of the United States competes in the Women's 400m Freestyle - S8 Final on day 2 of the London 2012 Paralympic Games at Aquatics Centre on August 31, 2012 in London, England.
Alan Fonteles Cardoso Oliveira of Brazil is congratulated by Oscar Pistorius of South Africa after winning gold in the Men's 200m - T44 Final on day 4 of the London 2012 Paralympic Games at Olympic Stadium on September 2, 2012 in London, England.
Gareth Copley/Getty Images
Jessica Long of the United States competes in the Women's 400m Freestyle - S8 Final on day 2 of the London 2012 Paralympic Games at Aquatics Centre on August 31, 2012 in London, England.
Jen Armbruster (Top) Lisa Czechowski (C) and Asya Miller of United States during the Women's Group D Goalball match between Sweden and United States on day 1 of the London 2012 Paralympic Games at The Copper Box on August 30, 2012 in London, England.
Scott Heavey/Getty Images


The U.S. may have gotten the better of China at this year's 2012 Olympic games in London, but Team USA is having a tougher time at this year's Paralympics. China is well ahead of the rest of the competition, but there's still plenty of gold to dole out yet. 

Don't count on being able to watch them on your set. If coverage of the 2012 Olympics was late and often frustrating for its U.S. audience, live TV coverage of the 2012 Paralympics is pretty much nonexistent. NBC is planning to air a few hours of highlights, but if you're interested in catching the games live, you'll want to head over to the Paralympics 2012 website's live video stream. You can also check their schedule for what's coming up for the day.

No. of Paralympian athletes by state | Full roster of Paralympics Team USA 2012

Californians make up a good chunk of this year's competitors. The state has more Paralympians in the games than any other in the U.S., and the state's played a role in both training and in manufacturing some of the athletes' preferred prosthetics.

Like its Olympic forebear, the Paralympics are about the trials and triumphs of its athletes. In the case of the Paralympians, those stories are as inspiring, heartbreaking and heroic as their better-covered able-bodied brethren. Reporter Corey Moore has highlighted a few of those stories for KPCC, and you can get many more at Team USA's website. 

Some of those stories might help guide your viewing decisions. The Paralympics site has even created a handy and dynamically-updated list of the day's competitors by country — including U.S. athletes — so you can always see which U.S. athletes are up next.

But for those seeking suggestions, we offer a few highlights to watch for this week: 

This year's games are set to be a watershed for the Paralympics. The games were barely covered by major media in years past. And though it's true you'll be hard-pressed to catch live events on network TV in the U.S., the Beeb and other outlets worldwide are giving visibility to the games in ways they never have before.

And it seems to be working. This year's opening ceremony, featuring Coldplay and the Queen, brought three times as many viewers as the 2008 Olympics, according to the Telegraph. And in order to explain the games and their classifications of impairments to new audiences, the BBC brought in a new set of hosts.

Will this be the year that the Paralympics garners an audience large enough to launch Olympic-size stars and sponsorships? BBC host and former Paralympian Rachael Latham seems to think so.

She told PBS's MediaShift blog: "I don't think the public has ever been given the chance to care about the Paralympics. If you aren't given the chance to see something and understand it, you probably won't care."