Our second day of Paralympic action kicked off with us heading to St Pancras to get the Javelin train. On the pavement on the way we spotted different competitors’ footprints mirroring ther performance in various sports at various Olympics that had been painted on the ground. We had fun trying to work out all the different sports and trying to walk in the athletes’ footsteps. My favourite was Usain Bolt’s stride from the 100 metres. It was twice the length of mine! My attempt to walk in his footsteps was not too dignified.
We were puzzled by one particular set of footprints, and as we stood there trying to figure it out we heard a voice from above shout, “judo!” There was a man on a balcony above us, and he said that everyone was confused by that set of prints. We wondered how many times he’d had to shout “judo!” at random pedestrians over the last month.
I will admit that I moaned all the way into the Olympic Park because I was tired and grumpy (I’d possibly over-exerted myself trying to be Usain Bolt), but the second we saw the stadium and the Orbit sculpture (even if it is ugly) I really got excited. It’s a pretty impressive sight.
Our first sport of the day was 7-a-side football. I’m not a football fan at all, but it was still good to watch GB against Ukraine, even if they did get roundly thrashed. I think the score was 8-1. At least we got to cheer like mad at one goal.
It was an absolutely scorching hot day. We attempted to have a little walk around the park, but it was just too hot. I managed to stay out in the sun long enough to have my photo taken outside the velodrome. I didn’t get to go inside, but I will one day. In the meantime, I’ll have to make do with going up to the velodrome in Manchester to see the national track championships at the end of the month. Hopefully some of our Olympic and Paralympic stars will be there.
As we walked towards the basketball arena, I spotted some GB athletes because of their distinctive union jack wheelchairs. As we got closer, we realised it was three members of the sitting volleyball team we’d watched on Saturday, and we stopped them for a photo.
It was so lovely to meet Martine Wright, Andrea Green and Emma Wiggs, and they were so excited that we’d been to see them play. It really made our day.
The sun was so hot we decided to go inside for a while to cool down. We went to see some of the wheelchair basketball, which was impressive. We hadn’t been there long when, thanks to our obsession with Twitter, we realised that Peter ‘The Quadfather’ Norfolk was about to play in the wheelchair tennis doubles, so we hotfooted it over to Eton Manor. As we’d somehow managed to do at every sporting venue, we seemed to get there just in time, so we got great seats and then watched the queue form while hundreds more people tried to pile into the stands.
After Peter Norfolk and Andy Lapthorne thrashed the Japanese pair, and we were nice and toasted from sitting in the sun, we retreated back inside to watch the goalball. It’s for visually impaired competitors. They roll a ball with bells inside at each others’ goal and try to defend by blocking it with their bodies. They track the ball by sound, so the crowd has to be silent during play. I was pretty disappointed by how difficult some people seemed to find this. The game was stopped twice to allow people to remove screaming babies from the arena, and I heard two mobile phones go off, despite repeated reminders to turn them off. It was the only thing all day that marred my enjoyment of the sports. People are idiots. Despite the interruptions, we watched a great game where the USA beat the Aussies in a 2-0 defeat.
On our way out of the park we took the opportunity to do the Mo-bot outside the stadium. It’s cheesy, but it had to be done.
Before we left, we wanted to have a wander around the 2012 Megastore to see what overpriced tat they had to offer. The answer to that was loads, we were in there so long it was dark when we came out! I was very excited to see a huge billboard in there featuring my number one Paralympic crush, the cyclist Jon-Allan Butterworth (my number two crush being Oscar Pistorius – holy mary, that man is easy on the eye!). I had to have a photo with Jon-Allan, it might be the only chance I ever get!
You sir, are very attractive.
As we finally got on the Javelin train to go home, gutted that my Paralympic experience was over, Jo noticed that the photo of me with the Jon-Allan Butterworth billboard that I had tweeted had been re-tweeted – by none other than Jon-Allan Butterworth! That really made my day, I was like a giggly teenager. He saw my photo! He knows I’m a sad fangirl!
What a brilliant end to our amazing Paralympic weekend!
I’ve just loved the whole of London 2012. It’s been brilliant to see everyone get behind Team GB and Paralympics GB and see all our atheletes do so well. I’m also mightily relieved that we managed to pull it off because, I’ll admit, I had my doubts. But seriously, London really did pull it off. We can be very, very proud.
I want to kick my new blog off by writing about a great experience, and I’ve had few experiences greater than attending the Paralympic games with my best mate, Jo.
I always watch the Olympics, regardless of which city is hosting it, but I got totally carried away with the wave of pride and enthusiasm that surrounded London 2012. I’ll admit that I’ve only ever watched bits and pieces of the Paralympics before, but this time I’ve been hooked. I’ve watched the action every day since the opening ceremony, and I’ve been blown away by it all. I’m so super proud of our athletes, and the way the country has got behind them.
So off to the ExCel Centre we went, decked out in red, white and blue.
It’s not difficult to see how people get swept up in the action, as soon as me and Jo sat down to watch the table tennis, we suddenly became the biggest table tennis fans in the building, and we got to cheer GB’s Will Bayley to victory.
Next up was Joe Ingram in the judo. The crowd were so loud when he was introduced.
After the judo we went to take our seats for the sitting volleyball. I’ve never seen it before, and it was really exciting. We got to see the GB ladies team, but sadly they lost their game.
We headed back to see Will Bayley win a second match, then it was time for the powerlifting. We watched Jason Irving compete for GB, then were lucky enough to run into him afterwards.
Let’s just not talk about how unflattering that blue and white top is on me. Wow. Don’t mind me, I’m just putting these biscuits away…
Anyway, by the time we got on the train to head home, we’d been at the ExCel Centre for about twelve hours. We were so exhausted we could barely walk, so heaven knows how tired all the athletes were!
I was really impressed by everything at the games – the efficiency of the travel and the security checks, the venues, the crowds, the volunteers – it was all pretty faultless, which I am definitely not used to in the UK.
To round the day off we watched Channel 4’s excellent Last Leg, which has just been brilliant, particularly the #isitok Twitter hashtag. If you haven’t seen it, head to the 4OD website before it disappears.
The following day we lounged around Jo’s flat and watched the Paralympics on TV, which was perfect preparation for our trip to the Olympic Park the next day…