Unbroken: The Paralympics and its Record

Every four years, the Paralympics shines a spotlight on the world's best athletes with disabilities.

But beyond moments in the spotlight, what is the record of the Paralympic movement itself? What has it achieved not just for athletes, but for people with disabilities more broadly?

In an exciting new four-part audio documentary, I talk to athletes, administrators and archivists to tell the story of how the Paralympics began and what it’s become. Along the way, I hear countless stories – both affirming and affronting – of athletes' experiences. But Unbroken also hears from people with disabilities who have no interest in sport whatsoever. Combined, they tell the story of what the Paralympic movement has – and hasn’t – achieved for the cause of disability representation and advocacy.

Records are broken at every Paralympics. But what’s the record of the Paralympics itself?

Episode 1: Origins and Impact

When Annabelle Williams was 10, a kid at her school made fun of her for only having one arm. But with the right support, her disability is something she's grown to be immensely proud of. In Episode One of Unbroken, the gold-medal winning swimmer uncovers the history and impact of the Paralympic movement, and what it has (and hasn't) achieved for people with disability and beyond.

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Episode 2: Classy Issues

Cheating at the Sydney 2000 Paralympics rippled far beyond the cheaters. The sporting careers of completely blameless champions were left in tatters. The scandal revolved around the thorny issue of athlete ‘classification’. In episode two of Unbroken, Annabelle talks to athletes and administrators about what’s gone wrong, how to get it right – and how technology could unleash a new wave of classification confusion.

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Episode 3: Money and the Media

Money and the media, and improved access to both, has revolutionised the Paralympic movement. Episode three of Unbroken looks at how greater exposure of the Paralympic movement has changed the lives of people with disability more broadly.

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Episode 4: The Record Beyond Sport

For some Paralympians, a gap remains between the way they are treated at the games and at home. Even for non-athletes, the Paralympics can seem very distant from disability day-to-day. Episode four of Unbroken looks at what the Paralympics has - and hasn’t - achieved for people with disability.

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"One of the things I'm most proud of is being a Paralympian. The Paralympics itself has an incredibly rich history, and the athletes who are, and have been part of it, have their own remarkable stories to tell. I'm privileged to count myself among this diverse community of people who celebrate and champion their differences. As the host of 'Unbroken', I go on a journey to explore the stories and the record of the Paralympic Games: its successes, challenges, and its impact on the disability community at large. 'Unbroken' gets to the heart of the power of the Paralympics and equal representation, and my daughter Josie is a great example. After I'd visited her preschool in Episode 1 to talk about the Paralympics and disability, Josie came home spouting that she too wanted to be a Paralympian... I didn't have the heart to tell her she isn't disabled! But it proves the point - representation matters. I hope you learn as much as I have from the wonderful people in this podcast."

Annabelle Williams, Host