Super visual treat for veteran athlete

Western Telegraph: BIG SCREEN: Muriel Hearnshaw, originally from Bradford, who competed in the 1948  London Olympics BIG SCREEN: Muriel Hearnshaw, originally from Bradford, who competed in the 1948 London Olympics

Sixty-four years ago Muriel Pletts was a 17-year-old about to compete for her country in the 100 metre relay at a home Olympic Games.

The young sprinter of Eccleshill , Bradford, was part of a four-woman team that narrowly missed out on a bronze medal at the 1948 London Games.

Yesterday, aged 81, she returned to her home city to watch today’s Olympians competing in the pool via special screenings using the latest broadcast innovation Super Hi-Vision at the city’s National Media Museum .

But for the former Miss Pletts, now Mrs Hearnshaw, it is the start of the athletics coverage in three days’ time that she is really looking forward to.

Of the latest technology at the museum, she told the Telegraph & Argus: “I think it’s fantastic. I would love that in my lounge so I could watch the athletics next week. It’s brilliant.”

She described how she was happy to follow Team GB from home, having turned down the chance of tickets to see the action live offered to 1948 Olympians due to her husband’s ill health.

The former English Schools champion and Airedale Harrier, recalled her experience of the last Olympics in London, saying: “It was a bit basic of course. We were provided with the dress, jacket and beret for the opening ceremony and we got a tracksuit. But the rest of the things we had to provide ourselves, even making our own shorts and top.

“We were amateurs, so no funding, sponsorship, no nothing. You just did what you had to do.”

She added of her training: “I used to catch the bus at Undercliffe to go to work so would run from Eccleshill to the bus stop as part of my training.”

Mrs Hearnshaw also said she had been following the London 2012 Olympics from home and that it was bringing back memories of her time in the spotlight.

The Media Museum has worked with the BBC and Japanese broadcaster NHK to bring Super Hi-Vision to the city. It combines Ultra High Definition images, at 16 times the resolution of standard HD television, with advanced multichannel surround sound. The museum’s Cubby Broccoli Cinema has been transformed into a special viewing theatre so that people can try out this “truly immersive viewer experience” for themselves.

The clear picture quality means it provides such a realistic experience that viewers feel like they are actually at the event. Most of the footage shown will be highlights rather than live, offering visitors to the museum the chance to watch selected Olympic moments from London 2012, including action from the Olympic Stadium, Velodrome, Aquatic Centre and Basketball Arena, all in Super Hi-Vision.

Iain Baird, curator of broadcast culture at the museum, said: “Throw out your previous assumptions about television. Super Hi-Vision is the television of the future, today. It is a new medium that needs to be experienced to be understood.

“For starters, the Super Hi-Vision picture is extremely life-like because it contains 16 times more pixels than current HDTV. A 22.2 speakers’ surround system, large cinema screen, and the excitement watching in a group further contribute to make you feel like you’re actually at an event. For those not able to get a ticket for the Olympic venues, this is without a doubt the closest thing to having your own seat.”

Screenings are an hour long with the first at noon each day and the last at 6pm. Tickets for the one-hour slots are free and are available from the museum until the run ends on August 12. Visit nationalmediamuseum.org.uk or call 0844 856 3797 to book tickets.

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