Newspaper article Fraser Coast Chronicle (Hervey Bay, Australia)

Adam Hills and the Paralympic Conversion; the Aussie Comedian Tells of His Love Affair with the Games

Newspaper article Fraser Coast Chronicle (Hervey Bay, Australia)

Adam Hills and the Paralympic Conversion; the Aussie Comedian Tells of His Love Affair with the Games

Article excerpt

Byline: Chris Lees In Rio de Janiero

THE passion Australian comedian Adam Hills has for the Paralympics is obvious after talking with him in the press centre in Rio de Janiero.

Hills is there filming his Last Leg in Rio comedy show for Channel 4 in the United Kingdom.

"After seeing the Paralympics in Beijing, I had the Paralympics conversion that everybody has," he said.

"It's been an interesting progression for me. In Beijing, I got it, I was clearly in love with it. I hung around a lot with the Australian team... I just went and watched everything and the team kind of took me under their wing and I was completely hooked.

"Then Channel 4 asked us to cover London. But then after London a whole different production company took over, so pretty much the entire staff here have never seen the Paralympics ... so it's been amazing watching them become infected, it's like a virus.

"You suddenly see someone waxing lyrical about goalball or one-legged high jump and you go 'oh you've caught it, you've caught it."

The show began at the London Paralympics in 2012.

"I think what happened was the head of Channel 4 wanted to do a bit of a Roy and HG type of things," Hills said.

"She is originally from Australia, so she's very familiar with Roy and HG, she wanted to do a late night irreverent comedy show and Channel 4 had the Paralympics.

"Originally I was asked to host a highlight show ... but when they saw me do stand-up at the Paralympics they thought maybe this could be something else."

Hills said the show became a bit of a cult hit in London.

"Then they said do you want to come back and talk about the news every week and we said 'not particularly but we'll give it a crack'.

"I think now we're back at the Paralympics doing what we do, it's where we should be."

Hills was born without a foot and wears a prosthesis, so has more perspective than most when it comes to the Paralympic Games.

One thing people might not know is that after Beijing, Hills was approached by the Australian team who asked him what sport he was good at.

He told them he used to be a tennis coach and they said wheelchair tennis could be an option.

"They said 'if you want to do this, great, but you have to be in a wheelchair all day every day for the next four years because you have to learn how to use a wheelchair properly," Hills said.

"I was making Spicks and Specks at the time and I said 'I just don't think I can'.

"Jason Hellweg, who was the Chef de Mission of the Australian team, said 'the best thing you can do for the Paralympics is tell people about it.

"So four years later in London he reminded me about it."

Hills said he was asked when he was a kid to try out for the "disabled games''.

"If they had amputee tennis I might have done it because that's what I loved, and I said 'no I'll go to Wimbledon'," he laughed. …

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