Posts Tagged ‘London 2012’

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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The Olympic Opening Ceremony paid homage to the dedication and professionalism of the NHS

As some of our followers may know, I recently experienced a health scare which was fortunately discovered early and was cured. I wanted to share with you the admiration I have for the service I received from the NHS in Wales. From my local GP who first suggested an X-ray to me, through the numerous visits to the Heath and Llandough hospitals, the sensitivity, compassion and pure professionalism of each of the nurses, consultants, surgeons, physios I encountered shone through at every stage.

Critics of the opening ceremony of the Olympic Games stated that the section on the NHS was ‘politically motivated’ and ‘unnecessary’. To those critics I can say with real passion and conviction that they are so wrong. The work of the NHS is quite simply superb, even if occasionally mistakes occur – as can happen in all major corporations, and organisations big and small.

Ending on a topical note, I must agree with the comments of the many fans, competitors and media pundits on the Olympics we have experienced over recent weeks – a breathtaking demonstration of world-class event management, and Britain’s creativity at its best. Added to this we have seen the dedication and team efforts behind all our Olympic heroes, who have all thanked the Great British public and the many volunteers for their part in bringing out their very best performances.

In conclusion, I strongly believe that I have seen over the last few months what truly makes Britain Great – from the professionalism of the NHS in Wales to the Olympic success of our competitors, organisers, entertainers, volunteers and fans. Lets make sure this leaves a Great British legacy that lives on for generations to come.

Once again Wales punches above its weight in the world of sport, with confirmation today that some 29 Welsh athletes have been selected to the GB team for the forthcoming Olympic games. This is a record number, beating the 1908 figure!

It is frankly unbelievable that our nation, representing just 5% of the UK population, produces so many outstanding individuals, not just in sport but also business, the arts, science, law, medicine, and so many other spheres of life. Is it the water, the air, the food, plus the determination of these amazing individuals to conquer the world? We must package and sell this “Welsh ingredient” worldwide, and encourage businesses and like-minded individuals to come and benefit from our truly unique country.

Once again congratulations to all our Welsh representatives, and to their coaches, families and friends who no doubt have helped and supported these superstars over the months and years of hard work and dedication.

Good luck to you all at London 2012!

World 400m hurdles champion Dai Greene is one of 29 Welsh athletes selected for Team GB

With so much negative news around the world at present, what a great pleasure it is to read in today’s Western Mail the fantastic news about a number of Welsh men and women who are leading the way in so many different fields of life.

Tom James (2nd from left) celebrates Team GB’s Gold at the 2008 Beijing Olympics. He is just one of Wales’ sporting stars to have their place at London 2012 confirmed.

From the inspirational business people, groups and entrepreneurs honored at the 3rd Inspire Wales Awards held at City Hall last night, to the comments made by Sir Steve Redgrave, Britain’s greatest Olympian, about our own potential gold medalist rower, Tom James, whose place in the GB flagship coxless IV has been confirmed after the final rowing trials. Indeed, with other Welsh Olympic hopefuls including hurdler Dai Greene, cyclist Geraint Thomas, world champion triathlete Helen Jenkins and other selected members of Team GB, Wales should once again be punching above its weight and help Britain to its greatest medal haul yet.

While we all worry about the crisis in the Eurozone, over which we mere mortals have little or no control, it is reassuring that our little nation still produces more individuals per head of population than any other region of the UK that go the extra mile to improve their sporting performance or help and inspire their communities with dedication and creativity.  Such can also be said of our business men and women, scientists, academics, writers, artists, and so on, Wales continues to produce “winners” in every sector. Let’s celebrate it!

And let’s start with a resounding Good Luck to Sam and his boys in Melbourne tomorrow. To coin a phrase used by a certain Rebekah Brookes recently – “we are rooting for you!”

As I stated in my blog last week, for a tiny nation, with only 5% of the total population of Great Britain, Wales produces a staggering amount of successful businessmen and women, academics, leaders and sportsmen. Therefore I totally support the comments Professor Laura McAllister, Chair of Sport Wales,  makes in today’s Western Mail. She reminds us all that with only 5% of the population, our sportsmen and women have brought home 25% of Great Britain’s Olympic gold medals – unbelievable!

With today being 200 days to go until the opening ceremony, let’s use the Olympics this year to remind the whole world what a remarkable little nation we are: celebrating our’ past successes, and, of course, hopefully creating new ones!

We must embrace the Olympics and make our visitors and those countries using Wales for their pre-Games training welcome, so that they will return to their homelands as true ambassadors for Wales. With the very first matches of the entire games, the women’s football openers on the 25th of July,  being played our very own Millennium Stadium, the world will be watching us right from the start.

We may not be hosting the 100-metre sprint or the rowing eight finals, but there are huge benefits to be reaped from the ‘Olympic fever’ that grips the globe once every four years.  Wales can only benefit, in both the long and the short term. Will all those bleating about Wales not getting its’ fair share of the Olympic purse start supporting our athletes, administrators, hospitality franchises and all involved, to make the summer of 2012 the best Olympics yet.

Some of Wales’ brightest hopefuls for the 2012 games…

Nicole Cooke,  Cycling – our first gold medal winner at Beijing 2008.

Jade Jones, Taekwondo – who recently appeared on Jonathan Ross’ show.

Aaron Ramsey, who may well be representing Wales in Team GB, modelling the Olympic kit.

Andrew Selby, Boxing – 2011 European Champion, born and bred in Barry!