Poetry - James Corden: Welcome to Rio

Bringing poetry to the Paralympics, James Corden has recited a specially commissioned poem exploring the excitement and anticipation of the Rio Paralympic Games which begin on Wednesday...

James Corden: Welcome to Rio takes in the historical roots of the Paralympic Games, recalls how events unfolded in London before turning its attention to the anticipation the Rio Paralympics and the nation’s hopes for Britain’s Paralympians. The short film is based on the concept that Britain’s athletes are gathering backstage before they step onto the world stage of the Rio Paralympics to take part in the epic sporting event.

The film was created by Fulwell 73, the production company behind James’ hit US talk show The Late, Late Show with James Corden. This project comes off the back of Fulwell 73’s film about Britain Olympic star, Mo Farah: Race of his Life. The production company is also in the process of making a major feature documentary about the greatest sprinter of all time Usain Bolt, entitled I am Bolt.

Ed Havard, Channel 4’s Head of Sport and TV Events, said: "Fulwell 73 and James Corden have yet again produced another extraordinary piece of work, with a stunning tribute to the Paralympics as an epic piece of sporting theatre. It's the perfect way to open our Paralympic programming."

Written by broadcaster Eddie Butler, the poem references the very beginnings of the Paralympic Games at Stoke Mandeville in 1948 and its growth over the years. The poem then takes a nostalgic look back at the 2012 Paralympic Games in London and revisits some of the highlights such as the gold medal moments of Ellie Simmonds, David Weir and Hannah Cockcroft.

And finally the poem sets the scene of what is to come when Britain’s Paralympians take centre stage at Rio and the glorious opportunities that await them.

Here are the words to the poem in full –

James Corden: Welcome to Rio

A Paralympics Poem – written by Eddie Butler and read by James Corden

It is the beauty of the theatrical stage,
That this can be anywhere in any age.
So, this is a show about Rio,
And there we’ll go …

Changing places - and time. But we won’t get Brazil
We use this stage to change the time frame;
That is, like archers we aim
For the Paralympian dawn
And the pioneers, the Para-neers, on a hospital lawn.

Stoke Mandeville’s 16, 68 years past;
Rio de Janeiro: 4000 - and counting - in their cast …

Another time-shift, in order to delve
Into the wonders of London, 2012 …
Remember Ellie, chlorine-clean teen,
Our swimming-pool queen?

From our Ellie, shedding a tear;
To the changing face of David Weir …

Are these your last Games; will you be gone so soon?
Is Rio to be your last howl at the moon?

And the smartest invention since the starting block:
The running blade as mastered by Jonnie Peacock.

Or the athletics
Of prosthetics:
Richard Whitehead …
Marathons … sprints – enough said –
Brilliant …
And resilient.

Which brings me to this – this thing of your hour upon the stage …
In your sporting bubble, your fair-play rage …
Your utter dejection …
Your sense of rejection …
This for example was Jody Cundy:
DQ-ed on Friday, still fuming on Sunday …

Or the other end of the emotional range …
If you were coy in your joy, that would be strange …

But here’s a dance of delight – a reel, the ceilidh –
Of table-tennis’s Will Bayley

And the blur of the turn of the wheel –
All muscle and steel –
And the still of the arms held aloft
Of the storm-force sprinter, Hurricane Hannah Cockroft …

And there - the measured mile
Of the Para smile.

What if all this wasn’t all that mattered?
Every tale told of body parts shattered,
Every gritty reminder of: bear it, grin …
Never give up; never give in …
These are parables
Of the can’t-be-kept-downables …
The brilliance
Of resilience.
And reconstruction.

Meet Aled Davies and his objects propelled …
Zoe Newson, Ali Jawad - spirits like iron: lifted … and held …
It’s Lee Pearson on board a trusty steed;
A hardy Zanardi on a machine built for speed …

Another example?
A further sample?
A story?

Well, here’s the multi-storey golden glory
Of the one and only Sarah Storey …
One more gold – and she can, she’s so canny,
One more win and she goes past Tanni …

Baroness Tanni; Dame Sarah – wow –
Before the Parastocracy we take a bow …

There’ll be jumping as high as a pass on the Khyber,
Leaping on blades of reinforced carbon fibre.
The limitless nimbleness
Of the limbless …

But, please – here upon this stage,
Where we can turn the page to any age …
This is yours …
Your cause,
A manifestation,
A state of elation,
To the notion
That nation by nation
Through the inspiration

Of the Paralympic’s creation,
We may share this: a celebration.

And there – hear that? For you: applause.
The Paras, the stage is yours.

Image & Info - Channel 4
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