Rio Paralympics Presenter Sophie Morgan On The Superhuman Athletes And Why Nothing’s Holding Them Back

Presenting the Paralympics for Channel 4, Sophie Morgan tells us about who we need to watch out for, what misconceptions people *still* have about disability in sport and what the future holds.

Rio Paralympics Presenter Sophie Morgan On The Superhuman Athletes And Why Nothing's Holding Them Back

by Jess Commons |
Published on

'Thanks for the warm-up'. So read the billboards from Channel 4 ahead of the London 2012 Paralympics, thanking the BBC for their Olympic coverage.

Now, Channel 4 and their Paralympic coverage are back for Rio 2016 and they're certainly not giving it any less gumption. The team consists of Adam Hills, Breaking Bad's RJ Mitte, Ade Adepitan and, amongst others, broadcaster Sophie Morgan.

Sophie's got more than a few strings to her bow. As a wheelchair user (Sophie was paralysed from the chest down in a car crash when she was 18), she's achieved more in her 29 years than you and me put together and smashed boundaries in everything from fashion to exploring, presenting TV to art and technology. In fact, Rex Bionics, a company that Sophie is an ambassador for have even created a robotic exoskelteon that's giving paralysed people the chance to walk again like never before.

We caught up with Sophie before she flew out to Rio to find out who we need to be rooting for at the Paralympics, misconceptions people have about disabilities in sports and how things are changing thanks to activists such as her.

Hello Sophie!


Are you as hyped up for Rio as you were for London?

It’s very different isn’t it because it’s not here and that was a summer like no other but I think there’s going to be more interest than there ever has been before in the Paralympics. I think everyone will just be really intrigued to see how everyone’s doing, catch up with the faces that became really big in the games last time.

Who are you most excited to see?

There’s SO many people. There’s the obvious big names like the Richard Whiteheads and the Dave Weirs but then there’s some of the newer ones like there’s a really young girl coming through, Kare Adenegan (she’s 15!). She’s a racer behind Hannah Cockroft. She’s really young but she’s doing really well.

What are some misconceptions that STILL hang around about disability in sport?

I guess the big problem really is difficulties in accessing sport for a lot of disabled people. For example I still struggle to find somewhere I can go that’s accessible to swim in London. It’s not like every gym and every fitness centre is accessible and people can just wander in with any disability and they’ve got their needs met. The games have done a lot to challenge attitudes but there’s still a long way to go.

I guess that applies to a lot of things in daily life too…

Oh honestly. When there were all the Tube strikes on I just laughed. Because you guys have no idea. This is what we have to deal with all the time. If you look into every area of life you’ll find something that needs to be improved.

I can't even imagine...

But, in all honesty, I’ve travelled a lot and I don’t like to complain about our ‘system’, as it were, because I think we’ve got a lot right. I went to Ghana last year for a documentary called The World’s Worst Place to be Disabled. We’ve got a lot of problems but there’s still provisions made for disabled people. You can get a taxi, the bus is free, and people are getting vocal and using social media platforms to draw attention to the discrimination that happens so people are becoming more aware of it which is only a good thing.

You’ve said that since your accident you’ve become more ambitious – now you’ve got about 700 jobs. What was it that suddenly kicked in?

I don’t know. I had my accident when I was 15 so I had a blank canvas ahead of me anyway. I was very very determined to make the most of the life that I still had left. But I think really it’s because when you move into the world of disability there’s so many things to talk about and to deal with and to draw attention to. Like moving into the fashion world and the retail industry I’d be like, ‘well there’s something to do here too’.

As well as fashion and presenting and the rest you’re doing work with a company developing technology to help people deal with their disabilities. What’s going on in terms of new and exciting developments in that area?

Well obviously the exoskeleton from Rex is just the best thing in the world. But then there’s some really extraordinary new wheelchairs being designed which are really beautiful, deliberately more aesthetic and functional. So there’s a chair that I’ve just recently got called Carbon Black and it’s so sexy and cool!


I’ve seen a new 3D printed wheelchair they’re bringing out too which is bespoke to the user so that would be the definitive game changer because people in third world or developing countries don’t have access to that equipment and if we can get wheelchairs out cheap that work, I mean it would just be amazing.

Watching you present, you get a kind of fearlessness from you. Where does that come from?

I guess because of my restrictions, the limitations I have to live within my disability I try to shift the perspective to be about the things I can do. And those things I can do, I do them as well and as much as I can. I do live with a lot of fear in the sense that my disability is a serious one and it has complications and they’re ongoing, so I have to be respectful of that but I just think, that because of what I live with, I don’t allow myself to have the time to worry about the smaller things.

Sophie Morgan will be presenting the Paralympics from 7th September every day on Channel 4

Like this? Then you might also be interested in:

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Sexism At The Olympics Is Getting Out Of Hand. But Twitter's Fighting Back**


Follow Jess on Twitter @Jess_Commons

This article originally appeared on The Debrief.

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