The West

Fun and Games for Hills
Adam Hills is one of the hosts of ABC2's Paralympic Games coverage. Picture: ABC.

Adam Hills wants to remind you that he is without a right foot. The much-loved comedian and TV presenter is worried that viewers may have forgotten just how qualified he is to co-host the opening and closing ceremonies for the 2012 Paralympic Games in London.

"I will be working some of my stand-up in because I've got to remind some people that I've got one foot and to lighten up because I speak the language," he chirped down the phone from Scotland earlier this month where he was performing at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival.

The former host of popular music quiz show Spicks and Specks was born without a right foot and wears a prosthesis. Like Hills, half of the presenters and reporters involved in the ABC's coverage of the Paralympics are disabled. The on-air team includes Australian Paralympians Troy Sachs (wheelchair basketball), Amy Winters (athletics) and Katrina Webb (athletics).

This morning Australian time, Hills will be joined in the commentary box by Stephanie Brantz and Beijing triple gold medallist Heath Francis to host the opening ceremony. Over the 11 days of competition, ABC1 and ABC2 will broadcast more than 100 hours.

In addition to his commitments with the ABC, Hills - who has been working overseas since early June - will also host a highlights show on the UK's Channel 4 every night.

The gig is something Hills has been looking forward to after he became enamoured with the Paralympics during the Beijing games four years ago. "The plan was that I would do opening and closing and, in the meantime, take a trip. But I just became so addicted to the Paralympics; I was there every day watching events," he says.

"I'm really excited because I know what I'm in for. It's just amazing, it's life-affirming, that's the only way I can describe it."

This Paralympics, 161 Australians will compete in 13 sports with the team hoping to maintain its top-five berth on the medal tally, which it has held since Atlanta in 1996.

"I hope that we do win a lot of gold and that Australia gets behind it because the more interest there is in the Paralympics and the more TV coverage there is then the more funding there will be in four years time," Hills says.

"What was interesting to me about Beijing is that the ABC dedicated more free-to-air coverage of the Paralympics than any other network had given it in the world. In America there was no free-to-air coverage at all."

Hills, who says he will most likely host a third series of In Gordon Street Tonight, is hoping to bring a smile to people's faces while in the commentary box and celebrate the lighter side of the Paralympics.

"It's hilarious to have an athletes' village with people with cerebral palsy, people in wheelchairs, blind people," he laughs.

"In Beijing during the final night party we all ended up in a nightclub and it was amazing. At one point there was a dwarf snogging a guy in a wheelchair. You look around the party and there's a blind guy chatting up a girl with cerebral palsy.

"It's wonderful and it's life-affirming and it's funny because it's just so joyous."

The West Australian

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