Paralympics fans have been left scrambling to witness history once again after coverage missed a medal-winning jump live on TVNZ’s feed of the Tokyo Paralympics last night.
William Stedman sprung from out of nowhere to claim silver for New Zealand in the men’s T36 long jump.
Sitting in fifth place, well outside the distance required for a medal and with one jump left to go in the final, Stedman pulled a season’s best jump of 5.64m to surge into second place on the rankings and claim his third Paralympic medal.
However the jump wasn’t shown during the live coverage.
TVNZ didn’t show the first few jumps of the long jump event, then finally established a commentary-less stream on the TVNZ website, as well as intermittent showings on Duke.
The stream stopped working with about two jumps to go. Viewers then didn’t see Stedman’s silver-winning jump live until it was eventually shown on delay on Duke, about 20 minutes after it happened.
“Watched for ages tonight on TVNZ Duke and didn’t see one jump! So gutted!,” a fan commented on the Paralympics New Zealand Facebook page.
“It’s just such a pity that we couldn’t see it. Watching on the stream it stopped before the end. So disappointed… Really poor form from tvnz!!!,”another added.
It’s not the first time coverage has missed a crucial Kiwi event at the Paralympics. Viewers were left frustrated by TVNZ’s free-to-air television coverage of Lisa Adams’ gold medal win on Saturday, which showed shots of the crowd at the National Stadium instead of Adams’ final throw of the event.
TVNZ did warn viewers earlier in its television coverage that the scenario could play out and even adapted its content plan around Adams after a similar occurrence on Friday.
On Friday evening, men’s shot putter Ben Tuimaseve’s event was not featured at all in TVNZ’s coverage, forcing the broadcaster to apologise and provide an explanation to his family and supporters.
“TVNZ Duke had athletics on schedule, and we were waiting to see Ben throw, so this was disappointing for us and no doubt his friends and family at home,” a TVNZ statement provided to Stuff said.
“Given we are not receiving all the athletics events live on the host feed, we are working out a plan going forward to ensure our New Zealand Paralympians in athletics are all heroed.”
Last night, Stedman showed just how far he has progressed in the jumping discipline and showed extreme composure to produce a medal-winning final jump.
It was an inauspicious beginning to the evening for Stedman as he failed to find his rhythm in the Olympic Stadium.
A no-jump, followed by three middling attempts around the 5.45m range, left Stedman in fifth place and not appearing to be a threat to the leaders.
With two jumps to go, Stedman needed to pull something big out his hat to put some pressure on the front-runners. However, his fifth jump produced another red flag and it all came down to his sixth and final jump of the event.
As Stedman emerged from the sand following his sixth jump, he looked to his coach in the stand and shrugged his shoulders. He wasn’t confident he had done enough.
Seconds later, however, shock and joy came to the face of the 21-year-old as he realised he had put himself into the silver medal position with just three jumpers left to challenge him in the field.
One, then two jumpers failed to best Stedman, before Ukrainian Roman Pavlyk came just 1cm short of the Kiwi’s mark and history was sealed.
Evgenii Torsunov claimed gold (5.76m) for the Russian delegate, Stedman silver (5.64m) and Pavlyk bronze (5.63m).
“I’m a bit overwhelmed that was a massive roller coaster of a competition and I still don’t think it has quite sunk in yet,” Stedman said.
“From those last three rounds it was a real mental battle and I just gave that last jump everything. I actually thought it was a bad jump and thought that was it and then I saw the 5.64 come up on the screen. I’m feeling really elated and I just don’t think it has sunk in yet.”
He continued: “I’ve had a stress fracture for the last few months and we have had to modify training a little bit so I’m stoked to come out and get this.
Stedman will have another shot at a medal in the men’s T36 400m final later today.
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