Medals and Mobots – My day at the Paralympic Games

Posted: September 4, 2012 in Events, Opinion
Tags: , , , , , ,

Account Executive Sally was lucky enough to go to the Paralympics last weekend. Here she tells us all about her amazing day…

As anyone who has met me since the 27th of July can testify, I absolutely loved the Olympics. So when my lengthy efforts to get my hands on some Paralympics tickets were (finally!) rewarded, I was more than a little excited! I finally made it to the Olympic Park on Sunday, and it was definitely worth the wait.

My Paralympic experience started just before dawn (on a Sunday!). When I spotted my first Gamesmaker, the brilliant Olympic and Paralympic volunteers, on the platform at 7.30 I felt tingles of excitement. I was really on my way! Nearly everyone on our train into central London was heading to the games, and our Team GB t-shirts and Union Jack were greeted with knowing smiles by the other passengers. This was my first taste of the truly unique Olympic atmosphere I’d heard so many people talking about. By the time we got off the train at Stratford an excited buzz was everywhere.

We crossed the bridge under massive pink signs flashing ‘Good morning, welcome to London 2012’, and then there it was – the Olympic Stadium. Our tickets were for the morning athletics session, and after a quick hot chocolate break, we were itching to get inside.

The stadium is enormous and even more awe-inspiring in reality than on the television. Elegant columns taper down to create entry ways studded with coloured Perspex panels, with floodlights circling the rim like the points of a crown. It was already busy as we walked up the stairs (to the tune of Coldplay’s Paradise – truly spine-tingling!) but we had time to stand and gawp, and for a quick photo session!

Our seats were right opposite the beautiful cauldron, and we had a great view of everything going on. We got to see a real mixture of events, including  javelin, shot put, long jump, and lots of different track races – blind runners with guides, wheelchair racers, and runners with ‘blades’. A lot of the events happen at the same time, with the commentator directing your attention and filling you in on the athletes’ statistics and scores. One of the best moments of the day came when the commentator called for quiet for the start of a track race, just as an enthusiastic new arrival to our block of seating shouted, ‘Block 247, give us a cheer!!’  Our block was told off before the next one started…

The stadium was packed out and the noise for Team GB was unlike anything I’ve ever heard. It followed wheelchair racer Shelly Woods round the track like a roaring wave, the stands a sea of Union Jack flags. We saw Stef Reid take silver in the long jump and Bridgend boy Aled Davies get gold in the discus, encouraging our Canadian neighbours to join us in cheers of ‘Wales, Wales!’

Once our session ended we were free to wander around the park, and we quickly ticked the Aquatic Centre, Velodrome and Riverbank Arena off our ‘must-see’ list. We recharged our batteries on the grass by the big screen, watching the tandem cycling – and hearing the crowds cheering from the Velodrome behind us!

It was an absolutely fantastic experience, and every time I looked at the Stadium my spine tingled. However, the best moment of the day was undoubtedly getting to hold a very real, very heavy, gold medal!

It belonged to Swiss 5000m wheelchair racer Edith Wolf, who we had seen on the podium that very morning. To be able to say congratulations to a real life Paralympic champion was just amazing – Edith was truly awe-inspiring, and very down to earth.

We left the park very tired, but very happy. This summer’s Olympic and Paralympic Games have been such an incredible moment for Great Britain, and I am so happy that I can say, ‘I was there’.

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