On Sunday, my parents received a phone call from some family friends who had two spare tickets to the Paralympics – and we had to decide which of the four of us would go. Long story short: on Monday afternoon Mum and I were suddenly speeding towards Stratford on a Javelin train ready to spend the evening in the Olympic Stadium. I was incredibly excited to finally be a part of what we had seen on television and to actually enter the venue that we had seen on our visit to the park earlier in July.
|Mum and I outside the Olympic Stadium!|
The stadium was incredible – enormous, but not intimidating. Of course, the clear blue sky and lack of clouds helped, making the stadium lights look even more spectacular. Our seats were situated between the flag poles and the podiums, right in front of the 100m track. Once we were settled, and had filled up on overpriced salad and sandwiches, we were ready to enjoy the evening and to relish this once in a lifetime experience!
|The atmosphere in the stadium was electric, even at the very end after the events had finished!|
There was so much going on for the entire evening – we were lucky enough to witness a number of finals, particularly the races for the visually impaired which were very intense. The 5000m T12 final, for the visually impaired, was really exciting! We were also fortunate enough to witness Gold for Team GB, in the Men’s 100m T53 Wheelchair final, when Mickey Bushell stormed ahead and took the lead. The cheering was sensational, as was the sound of the entire stadium singing the national anthem after the ceremony.
|Bushell about to receive his well-earned Gold medal|
Inspirational events also included the Men’s High Jump F42, for amputees, which saw athletes jumping impressive heights with a huge amount of skill which was a very tense experience! It was fantastic to watch and brought home how brilliant the Paralympics really are, and indeed how amazing the human body is. Long Jump, Javelin and Wheelchair Racing also took place that evening, and all were very nail-biting and gripping.
However, the most inspiring part of the evening was the complete support of the crowd for every single athlete. Regardless of country and finishing place, every competitor received deafening cheers and applause from the crowd, which really emphasised the collaborative idea of the Olympic and Paralympic games. The efforts of all involved were visibly (and audibly) celebrated by everyone – the support was sensational and I felt so lucky to be involved in every single moment with everyone around me.
When Jose Luis Santero of Argentina finished eighth in the Men’s 5000m, resulting in him being lapped twice by the other athletes, he was supported by the cheers of the crowd, and everyone stood to encourage him and his guide to the finish line. At that moment, I was filled with great pride for London 2012.
To simply compete in the Games is a feat in itself, and no athlete should feel inadequate wherever they place. It was clear then that the crowd were incredibly inspired by all competing in the Games and keen to show their support. It was so fantastic to witness the excitement and amazement of all the winners in person. You could really sense the delight of medallists as they completed their laps of honour and their happiness reflected onto the crowd who showed their respect for everyone by standing as they passed.
Watch Jose Luis Santero come 8th to cheers from the crowd (courtesy of Channel 4)
The organisation of the event was also marvellous – the Games Makers were cheerful, helpful and very friendly, our journey on the Javelin train from Ebbsfleet International to Stratford was the quickest and smoothest journey I’d ever been on, and the queues were minimal. I feel very fortunate to have been able to experience a night at the Paralympic Games. It only went on to reaffirm how well the games have been organised. London 2012 has really been a testament to the country and to the world of sport.