*This post comes with a caveat – it’ s been a while since my last post and to tell the truth I’d forgotten I’d already written something on this topic, but alas I’m posting it anyway, maybe even to prove my alliegance to the Olympic movement. (Any offers to receive a Baron Pierre de Coubertin Award for this level of dedication; gratefully accepted!)
It was more than a month ago now I touched down at Heathrow Airport, ready to welcome the Paralympics to Britain. I passed security, thankfully collected by luggage (Olympic t-shirt packed and in tact), and headed to a little pub close to the park, that had conveniently renamed itself during the Paralympics to ‘The Wheelchair Basketballer’, throwing us in somewhat of a spin as to where we were.
After setting up camp for the night and bumping into a few of Team GB’s wheelchair basketball team, we hurried to the Olympic Park to see the launch of the 2012 Paralympics. I beamed as we walked through the gates, passed security again and entered this magical hub of a sporting and united world, littered with lights and flags and cheerful people. It felt great.
I felt part of something as I entered the stadium and found my seat.I drank it in. The ceremony started, the speeches were given and the Queen, bless her, was still recovering from her parachute jump for the Olympic opening ceremony, yet she attended to declare the Games officially open.
With rows of Japanese tourists in front of us, we waited until Japan was announced before heading out to stock up on refreshments.Poor souls, by the time Gabon was announced they were cheering in their seats, before realising Gabon is in fact, not Japan.
While outside the arena, we got a sneak peek of Team GB before they entered the stadium and I managed even to get a cheeky shot with them in the background. Although there were only a lucky few who saw them before they entered, I was swept up in a mob mentality and found myself chanting ‘Team GB’, wielding a fist; much to my husband’s shock. We raced back to our seats to join the raucous roars of celebrating a Paralympics on home soil.
As the ceremony drew to a close and the fireworks closed in, we watched wide-eyed as fireworks lit the skies above to mark the start of a fantastic couple of weeks and a new-found respect for many of disability sport.