The new Olympic Channel series Body+ redefines the 'perfect' body

Wile out with extreme wheelchair, watch in awe as Paralympic table tennis ace plays with his mouth and feel inspired by this 85-year-old record-breaking great-grandma.

By Evelyn Watta and Ken Browne

What is the perfect body for you?

Olympic Channel has launched a brand new original series that celebrates difference, focussing on athletes who use sports to redefine body standards.

What does an American deaf college basketball team, an extreme wheelchair athlete, a 158kg 'fat activist', an armless table tennis player and an 85-year-old pole-vaulting great-grandmother have in common?

They are all dedicated to their sports, to inclusiveness, to changing the way they see the world and the way the world sees them.

The Olympic Channel’s new original five-part series Body+, follows the lives of four athletes and a team looking at their world in a different way

The Olympic Channel’s new original series ‘Body+’ focusses on the lives of four athletes and one team embracing and celebrating their bodies regardless of size, age, disability, or limitations.

The series highlights how Aaron Fotherhingham, the Gallaudet Basketball team, Ragen Chastain, Flo Meiler and Ibrahim Hamadtou are redefining what it means to have the perfect body.

“I’m super excited to be featured in the new Body+ series by the Olympic Channel. It’s a series about athletes who use their diverse bodies to make sport their own. It’s super exciting to be a part of,” said Aaron Fotherhingham, the four-time Wheelchair Motocross World Champion.

The series will run for five weeks focussing on a different athlete or team each week.

Series 1 Episode 1

Aaron “Wheelz” Fotherhingham – the godfather of extreme wheelchair sports

The 28-year-old American who, despite being confined to a wheelchair, refused to let his dream of becoming a professional athlete die.

Born with spina bifida, a birth defect of the spinal cord, it caused him to lose the ability to use his legs.

But that didn’t limit Aaron who has inspired a new generation of riders into Wheelchair Motocross, WCMX. He uses a custom wheelchair for death-defying stunts and has a crash-reel that would make your eyes peel.

"Every wipe-out has a hint to what you did wrong," he says, but refuses to call crashing and burning and getting back up to try again a hundred times work.

"I don’t think of it as practice, I think of it as a fun way to live my life". - Fotheringham

In 2006 at 14 years of age he became the first person ever to land a wheelchair backflip, at 18 the first to nail a double backflip.

Aaron has toured the world with 'Nitro Circus' and starred in the Rio 2016 Paralympics Opening Ceremony (Click on the video below to see how he lit up Brazil four years ago).

But beyond personal success he has given so much more to a budding sport that we may one day see at the Paralympics.

Watch his incredible story below, and how he's personally inspiring and encouraging the next generation of WCMXers.

Series 1 Epidode 2

Gallaudet Basketball - the only deaf college basketball team in America

Gallaudet Basketball is the only deaf college basketball team in the USA. The team competes against hearing teams and deafness hasn’t limited them from showing their greatness on the court.

To immerse you in their world, much of this episode is shot in silence, which makes it an intense extra-sensory experience for anyone used to the screech and slam of your average basketball game.

Watch how the the players come together as one and take their connection to a different level.

Series 1 Episode 3

Ragen Chastain - the heaviest woman to ever complete a marathon

This American inspiration may weigh 158 kilos, but that doesn't stop her from setting - and achieving her goals - Ragen's favourite thing is seeking out new challenges.

The series follows her to a triathlon as she aims to complete an Ironman. Ragen, a self-confessed ‘fat activist’, has been training for years for the Ironman.

Apart from inspiring plus-size athletes, she is also a health coach and a ballroom dancer. 

See what life is like for Ragen Chastain here.

Series 1 Episode 4

Ibrahim Hamadtou - the Paralympian who plays table tennis with his mouth

Ibrahim lost both arms in a train accident when he was just 10 years old.

But that has not stopped him from becoming a table tennis champion. Like most Egyptian children he began by playing soccer, and moved on to playing table tennis as a challenge.

He was introduced to the world as one of the most inspiring athletes from the Rio 2016 Paralympic Games, and now has his sights set on Tokyo 2020.

With a silver medal from the 2013 African para table tennis Championships, there's much more to look forward to from Ibrahim's journey.

Find out all about him here.

Series 1 Episode 5

Flo Meiler the 85-year-old grandma breaking world records

Flo started to pole vault at 65.

Over the last 20 years she has proved that age is no barrier. At 85, the great grandmother is one of the most decorated senior athletes ever. She holds eight different National Senior Games records.

Flo believes that keeping her mind and body active ‘helps her look at the world in a different way’.