After trying unsuccessfully to secure tickets for events at the Olympics I was fortunate enough to get into a Track and Field session at the Paralympics with my wife.
On 1st September we trained it into Stratford when my body was telling me I should still be tucked up asleep.
I was really looking forward to the whole experience and couldn’t wait to get inside the Olympic Park.
Get in early!
Having spent time working in the Media Centre during the Olympic Games and knowing how good it can be without too many people milling around, my wife was keen to get me into the Olympic Park and experience it without the hordes.
As it happened we weren’t the only ones heading to the Paralympics at stupid’o’clock and even as we trudged through the Westfield Shopping Centre in search of coffee and munchies, the whole place was buzzing.
Having my ticket at the ready I wasn’t sure what to expect as we passed through security and emerged onto the main concourse leading to the venues.
It’s one thing to view all of these now familiar structures on the TV but it’s another thing entirely standing in their shadows.
The buildings, even after only being in existence for a short time, are now firmly embedded in our subconscious and are equally on a par with other longer standing London monuments.
With a caffeine and McDonalds buzz now starting to kick in we hurriedly made our way to the Olympic Stadium amongst thousands of other eager spectators.
Everyone was on a high and although there aren’t quite as many Games Makers for the Paralympics, the ones that were around were doing a sterling job of amping up the crowd.
The Olympic Stadium
After what seemed like an eternity of walking (the size of the Olympic Park is immense!) we arrived at the gates and ascended the stairs which would lead us to our designated seats.
Emerging from the stairwell into the light you are confronted by the sheer scale of the Olympic Stadium and it takes your breath away.
With a booming sound system (this place will make a great gig venue) and electric atmosphere the oval shaped building is indeed a truly remarkable feat of engineering in the same vein as ancient Roman gladiatorial structures – and indeed, as the morning wore on there were sporting battles of epic proportions in every corner of the stadium.
The Paralympics – even better than the real thing
Much has been made in the media of how the Paralympics are almost the secondary sibling to the able bodied competition – but this is not so.
Every athlete that took to the stage was the consummate professional and eager to take home the gold medal.
In many cases the will and determination of these performers puts them on an even higher inspirational platform than the likes of Farrah and Ennis.
Witnessing Richard Whitehead storm from behind during the T42 200m Final was a great experience. Every single person in the crowd felt his joy as he crossed the finish line in the gold medal position. How he is that fast on a pair or whirling carbon blades I don’t know?
After just over three hours our session was at an end and as we made our way to the nearest refreshment outlet, I reflected on what I had been a part of.
All of these disabled athletes are shining examples of what you can achieve even in the face of extreme adversity.
We should all take a leaf out of their books and strive for the very best we can be. There are plenty of opportunities available to us we just need to embrace them…