An "amazing surprise" sees Channel 4's Paralympic coverage beat the BBC Olympics to the TV Bafta for best sport and live event.

Ellie Simmonds, one of the superstars of the Paralympics. (Getty)

Pictured: Ellie Simmonds, the poster girl of the London 2012 Paralympics on Channel 4 (Getty)

"The Paralympics went from zero recognition with the British public to this huge event," says Jamie Aitchison, Channel 4 sports editor, who described Sunday's win at the Television Bafta Awards as "just an amazing surprise in Olympic year".

The Channel 4 team triumphed over the BBC's coverage of both the Olympic opening ceremony and Super Saturday, when Team GB grabbed six gold medals.

"It was, of course, important the athletes were succcessful - and by the Paralympics we had a nation with an appetite for more success," says Aitchison.

"And then the 'superhumans' campaign was huge and made everyone more aware.

"We knew we couldn't do it the same [as the BBC].

"We've always been the bridesmaids up until now.

"This award is testament to people recognising something other than the biggest event.

"We had disabled presenters who knew about the sport - and we chose the tone; educating people in an entertaining way."

It is the second Bafta for the Channel 4 Paralympics team who also won the craft award for digital creativity.


'Thankyou for letting us be ourselves'

One of the Paralympic presenters, Ade Adepitan, a former wheelchair basketball player, said the win was "an absolute honour".

He said: "Thank you Channel 4, for letting us be ourselves."

On Twitter, he said the victorious team had "danced their butts off" in celebration on Sunday night.

There was also a special award for sports presenter Claire Balding who hosted much of the Olympics coverage and then the Paralympics.

She said last summer's sporting glories brought "incredible positive energy, a feeling we could do anything and we did".

The victorious Channel 4 Paralypmic team at the TV Bafta awards 2013.

Pictured: Alex Brooker, Rachel Lathan, Deborah Poulton, Jamie Aitchison, Ade Adepitan, Gary Franses and Giles Long, winners of the Sport and Live Event award for The London 2012 Paralympic Games at the Bafta Television Awards 2013 (Getty)