Sunday, 2 September 2012


Arriving at the Olympic Park
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I can't believe I got to go to London for the day to see the Paralympic Games!! Clever Nathan managed to get us tickets to go in the Stadium and see some athletics.

We had to set off very early - as they advised that it could take up to two hours to get through the "airport-style security" and our session started at 10am.

We owe gratitude to Nathan's parents who got up at some unearthly hour to take us to Stafford station for 5am. We weren't the only excited people getting a train to London at that time though :-)

We couldn't get lost!
We changed at Birmingham and got into Euston just after 7.30am. From there we hopped on a tube to Stratford Station. There were bright pink signs everywhere telling people where to go for the Olympic venues.

We followed a growing band of Happy people out of the station and through the Westfield shopping centre and along the road to the Olympic Park. All along the route were Gamesmakers, dressed in Olympic pink, some on foot others on high chairs with megaphones who were jollying everyone along, telling us which side to go in and asking others what they were coming to see. Some were going to the Aquatic Centre and others to the Velodrome as well as the Olympic Stadium itself.

We got to the gates in less than fifteen minutes, and there was no queue for the security. There were multiple gates you cold choose to go through and dozens of security points with x-ray machines. We were directed to one, where we had to put our belongings into a plastic box and it was sent through the machine. Meanwhile we had to step through a security archway. Exactly like at the airport. We were through so quickly! Then we just walked into the Olympic Park and started having a wander round. We were so early - it was only just after 8am, so we had time to find the food areas and have a bacon sandwich, before going into the stadium itself.

Nice bacon butty!
 We saw the shop which I'd heard so much about. It had Alton Tower-style barriers outside, as if they were expecting a queue later. So, I suggested to Nathan that we go in early while it was quiet. It was massive inside - like a warehouse- with so many t-shirt designs, hoodies and souvenirs. Since it is such a one-off event for us we decided to get something to commemorate our visit.
My Paralympic Hoodie :-)

Nathan got a black hoodie and I got a grey one. It is certainly warm!

Then it was coming up to 10am so we headed over to Bridge D (as instructed on our tickets) and into Section M01. We found out way to our row and it was still empty so we got to our seats easily. We were sat at the back of the first tier, just behind where the three flagpoles were for the medal ceremonies. It was a great view from up there and pretty soon the stadium filled up and got noisier.

It's a Big Shop
 There was a commentator telling us what we were going to see and how things would work. Our slot was from 10am to 1.30pm - the whole morning session. We saw so many events - there was never a dull moment!

There was Long Jump going on at the far side of the track where the Cuban athletes were doing some fantastic lengths. As each competitors started their run up we were encouraged to clap in time - getting faster and faster as they approached the sand pit and jumped.

The Cauldron and the Scoreboard
 Just in front of us was the starting line for the 100 metre races. We saw lots of heats of the women's - some of whom had guides to run with them to get them going in the right direction. It was cool how they ran with them (they were all men) and then made sure they got over the line first. If the guide went over first they'd be disqualified. I didn't realise that the guides got medals too - if their runner did! As long as they'd been in all the heats with them to. i guess they train as long and hard as the women themselves.

We are really there!
We saw wheelchair races and also the men's two hundred metres final featuring Richard Whitehead, where he won the gold medal and set a new world record of 24.38 seconds too. He was so happy to win - he did a whole lap of honour. The noise was almost deafening. (I had thought ahead and NOT worn my new hearing aids - as I figured it was going to be a bit loud!). We were lucky enough to see a few medal ceremonies too - including Richard's. it was very emotional to see his tears and watch the Union Jack being hoisted while we sang the National Anthem. What a moment!

It wasn't the most moving moment of the day though - that came in the men's 1500 metres when Omar Hassan, the only athlete from Djibouti, was lapped twice by the rest of the field and yet carried on, painfully slowly on his own for the last two laps of the track. We thought once everyone else had crossed the line for the final time he would have stopped and given up - but no! He carried on, on his own, to louder and louder cheers from the 80,000 strong crowd. As he passed each part of the stadium, the audience rose to cheer him on and when he eventually crossed the line it was to a standing ovation and the loudest cheers of the day. What an inspiration - even though he had hurt his ankle at the start he showed such bravery and determination to finish that race come what may!  I had tears in my eyes by the time he finished. What a hero!

You can read the full story here

The Copper Box - with encouraging message outside :-)
 We came out of the stadium at 1.30pm so happy that we'd been able to be part of it. it was a wonderful experience. Out in the park again it had got very busy. As predicted the queue for the shop was round the block and the food courts were busy, with no seats available. We wandered round, after eating some pizza standing up, to see some of the other venues. The Aquatics Centre was impressive and we walked towards the Velodrome and the Basketball Arena. Also we saw the Copper Box where the Handball, Goalball and the Fencing take place. You couldn't actually go in without a pass and they were all sold out.

We walked around the base of the awesome sculpture that is Orbit and saw lots of people going up in the lifts and walking down! It towered over the Stadium itself. There was entertainment wherever you went from some old-style clowning and acrobatics to singers with guitars and our favourites - a bunch of crazy folk who were enacting various sports through the medium of dance.

It was 4.30pm before we left the park and headed back to the station. I was so happy to have experienced part of this historic occasion. Thank-You Nathan for getting us tickets :-)

Tomorrow it is back to reality. I have to go for my next check-up with the consultant. I seem to have developed a tingling in my fingers - which is a bit unpleasant, Not sure if it is due to the tightness and stiffness in my neck. I hope he doesn't say I'm doing too much!!  He did say I had to keep active!! :-)

We will see what he says tomorrow....

Part of the Aquatics Centre

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