From the very best bits to what you’ve been talking about, we’ve got the Paralympic Games 2012 covered!
Saturday the 1st was the day Team DH (i.e. me, Martyn and Liz) hit the Olympic Park in style! We had tickets to watch Wheelchair Basketball as well as a day pass, which allowed us to enter a number of other venues within the park if there was space available.
Martyn cruised down to the Olympic Park by car, for which he reserved a parking space before the day, and I took public transport option using the Tube to travel from Waterloo to Stratford.
Travel was relatively straightforward, as the Jubilee Line has great access. However, Stratford Station had a woefully inadequate number of lifts resulting in long queues to get off the platform. I have a feeling that the organisers just didn’t anticipate the large number of wheelchair users wanting to attend the Paralympics.
Once we got through the queues and into the Olympic Park we made our way to the Basketball Arena at the opposite end. Just a word of warning if you’re going, the whole park is HUGE, but there are taxi-style carts that you can catch to help you around.
We enjoyed a great session of women’s basketball with GB beating Brazil. The atmosphere was electric, especially as a GB team was playing.
We then took our chances on trying to see men’s 7-a-side Football, an event we didn’t have a specific ticket for. There generally seemed to be confusion on who has priority and who can go into what event. Our advice is, if your ticket has a specific event at a specific time, don’t take no for an answer; it’s what you’ve paid for.
After a 20 minute wait, we got to see GB play Brazil. GB unfortunately lost to Brazil; I guess losing to Brazil in any form of football always has a certain sense of inevitability!
We had a great day and I hope anyone reading this gets the chance to experience the Paralympic Games. Tickets do seem to be going on sale again each evening, so keep your eyes peeled, you never know!
My top 5 highlights
1. Swimming – Ellie Simmonds won gold. Ellie won gold in the women’s S6 400m freestyle. Like Jessica Ennis in the Olympics, Ellie Simmonds is one of the ‘faces’ of London 2012 and had the expectations of a nation on her young shoulders. Add in the controversy surrounding her arch rival, Victoria Arlen, and the pressure of competing in front of a home crowd, Ellie – who is just 17 years old – faced a tough task. Despite all this, she swam the race of her life to break the world record and win gold! Moreover, I can’t imagine anyone couldn’t have been unmoved by her tearful TV interview.
2. Cycling – Jody Cundy raced again. When Jody Cundy was disqualified in yesterday’s time trial, I felt terribly sorry for him as all those years of training seemed to have been wasted. It took a lot of character to overcome yesterday’s controversy and to focus on the pursuit, and thankfully win bronze in the men’s individual C4 pursuit. Take a look at his triumph on the Channel 4 website.
3. Athletics – Oscar Pistorius and Jason Smyth broke records. There is something just exceptionally awesome in the way these two guys dominate their events. Jason Smyth broke the men’s T13 100m world record to win gold, and Oscar Pistorius broke the world record in the T44 200m looking comfortably at ease in a style reminiscent to Usain Bolt. Both athletes are on the verge of breaking into ‘able-bodied’ events and potentially represent a bridge that may begin to blur the boundaries between the Olympics and Paralympics. Take a look at Jason Smyth and Oscar Pistorius‘ wins.
4. Athletics – Richard Whitehead was something else. I’d never heard of this guy before today’s event and in second to last position I didn’t think he had a hope in hell of winning! But then out of the blue, a switch seemed to have been flicked on Richard as he accelerated past the rest of the field to comfortably win the race and break the world record! Absolutely extraordinary! Take a look at Richard Whitehead winning; you have to see it to believe it.
And the highlight taking gold is…
5. Hassan Omar Hassan – a feat of endurance. Hassan Omar Hassan, representing Djibouti in its first ever Paralympic Games, was two laps behind the frontrunner and ended up completing the race at a snail’s pace of around 11 minutes (7 minutes behind the winner) due to an injury in his foot. But what really made this moment was the full support of the 80,000-strong crowd at his determination to finish the race. I think folks like Hassan represent the true spirit of the Games and his participation will undoubtedly have a positive impact in his home country. You’ll be blown away by this clip of Hassan Omar Hassan.
I really enjoyed watching the The Last Leg on Channel 4, especially the section of the show called #isitok. In this segment viewers could ask questions, no matter how silly or ridiculous, about some of the Paralympians disabilities. Some of the questions were crass and awful, but there were a few that were very funny and dealt with various misconceptions about disability. Search the hashtag and make up your mind!
Top 5 Tweets
Simon Le Bon – @SimonJCLeBON
“#paralympics wheelchair basketball, what a revelation! Quite possibly more, correction – way more exciting than the bipedal variety.”
Jane Hill – @JaneHillNews
Julie Cover – @x_JulieC_x
“Haven’t even bothered to watch #Xfactor this year, #olympics / #paralympics are much more inspiring !!”
Ebun Faturoti – @ebfatz
“Just seen Richard Whitehead’s 200m! Holy Cow that man is fast!! #paralympics”
Are you watching?
We’ve heard that there’s not been great coverage in other countries. Make sure you don’t miss out on any of the action by checking out our Definitive Guide to the Paralympics.
By Srin Madipalli
And let us know more about Paralympic sports you are involved in – email us at firstname.lastname@example.org, tweet us @DHorizons or send us a message on Facebook. Share your experiences with our community for a monumental Summer 2012!