Over the last couple of weeks Mr W and I have been privileged to attend four sessions of Paralympic sport – archery, swimming and two sessions of athletics – and all of them were awe inspiring.
At the archery we were impressed by the single-armed archer but then he was trumped by one with no arms at all. He loaded his arrows with his feet, lifted the bow onto his lap, pulled back the string with his teeth and set his arrow flying at high speed towards the target 70m away. He hadn’t just come along for the ride either, he won the match we saw him in and the power of the Internet tells me that he eventually won Paralympic silver. Truly amazing – I’d be lucky to get an arrow anywhere near the target at 70m let alone consistently scoring 9s and 10s!
At the swimming we saw world records tumbling like cards and cheered very loudly as Paralympics GB’s Jessica-Jane Applegate powered back from fourth in the last 50m of the s14 200m freestyle to win gold. We also saw the joy in the face of a blind Japanese swimmer as she heard the roar of the crowd when she came out to collect her Gold medal. You didn’t notice the disabilities, you just saw amazing athletes swimming faster than I ever could in my wildest dreams.
At the athletics we saw more world records broken – a discus thrown so far that the crowd cheered at an inappropriate moment and caused a false start in one of the track events. We saw a blind runner fall flat on her face just before the end of the 400m final one night and then come back the following evening to lead a Brazilian 1, 2, 3 in the 100m – their joy as they came out to collect their medals with their guide runners was infectious! Rio 2016 will be fun! 🙂 We saw more medals for Paralympics GB – David Devine collecting bronze two nights in a row, David Weir powering to victory in the T54 1500m and the GB women narrowly missing out on gold in 4x100m relay T35/T38 due to a fluffed final baton change. I shouted myself hoarse and it was fantastic!
Through the power of social media the Paralympics also gave us the oppportunity to re-unite with some of our lovely virtual friends. A bit of to-ing and fro-ing on Facebook enabled us to locate Nicky and ‘Tall’ in the crowds at the archery and afterwards they introduced us to the nicest pub in Woolwich. A Facebook check-in alerted running_dan_w that we were at the same swimming session as his wife Tamysn (aka ‘The Wife’) and after some crazy crowd-searching we spotted her and her friend and were able to catch up with them on the walk back to the station at the end of the evening. Some more crowd-searching at the Aquatics Centre and a few texts of “we’ll stand up, you do too” also enabled us to spot our running club buddy, Rupert, and his son Jack – they’d had a busy day of athletics in the morning, an afternoon trip to Hackney lido and an evening of swimming! Finally, Twitter informed me that the lovely Alma was going to be at the same athletics session as us and so we had a quick ‘tweet-up ‘ before the sport began!
Another joyous two weeks of sporting fun – so sad that it’s all over now! 😦 I wonder how much a flight to Rio would cost…