Monday, 3 September 2012

London 2012 Paralympic Games

A couple of days ago I managed to buy some tickets for Sunday night's (2nd September) Athletics in the Olympic Stadium.

We had the Littleton and Harestock Show Service in the morning so, after a quick lunch, we headed for the station and a train to Waterloo.

Journey went very smoothly into Waterloo and then out to Stratford on the Jubilee Line and a short walk to the Olympic Park.  It was fantastic during the whole day to see just how good the organisation  was and how smoothly everything worked.

We'd been told to expect Airport Style security as we entered the Park.  I'd actually like to see airports starting to provide "London 2012 Style" security as, despite the volumes of people arriving, we flowed through ticket checks and then straight on and through the scanning getting into the event without hardly breaking step.

Reminded of "War of the Worlds"
It's a very impressive place with all the buildings but also all of the other parts - the flower areas, walkways, picnic areas etc all very well thought out even if this view does rather remind me of "The War of the Worlds".

The StadiumWe spent some time wandering around the park and grabbed a sandwich before heading to the Stadium.   This is one very impressive building.  Not only is it great to look at from the outside but is an amazing place to sit with the electric atmosphere generated by the crowds inside.   We had a bit of a Harry Potter moment trying to find our seats though.  The tickets said we were in section 110 so we go across bridge E turn right and start passing 102 and upwards.  The numbers climb as we walk 107, 108, 109, and then of course 111, 112, 113.   Huh?  Retracing our steps we leap again from 111 to 109.  Seeking help from one of the many Games Makers we are told that there is a special entrance for 110 .. go through that door and talk to security.   How puzzling but through we go and sure enough there is the entrance to 110.   Once we go through we reaslise what's happened - we are seated in part of the media area.  I guess that there is less demand for media seats for the Paralympics than they had at the Olympics so some of the seats have been made available.

From the back of section 110 looking down to our seats

Here's the view down to our seats - that's us down in the second row!  Comfy seats, a desk area to spread out our stuff, masses of space and fantastic views - it's fair to say that we were more than a little pleased.

Looking left from my seatView from my seat looking left ....
... and ahead of us we have...
... and straight ahead  
... and to the far right                                                                      ... and to the right.

Over the next 3 hours we were treated to an inspiring display of track and field events.  By the end of it we'd even managed to get a reasonable grip of all the various category definitions.  The first letter ("F" or "T") just designated Field/Track.  The first number indicated the nature of the disability so for example 1 meant "visual", 5 meant "wheelchair".  The final number indicates the severity with the lower the number being the more severe.  My understanding had reached a sufficient level to make me do a double take when they announced the F11 Discus event !  Amazing to see them manage to throw the discus so reliably - I can't begin to imagine the amount of dedicated training that must take.

After the Men's 200m T44

The men's 200m T44 was undoubtedly the most anticipated event of the evening and certainly lived up to its billing as a very exciting race.   Looking at the athletes after the race was over it was interesting to see how, with 10 blades and 4 legs, it was the legs that somehow looked anomalous.

We were conscious that if we missed the 2254 from Waterloo the next train was at 0030 so we'd decided to leave the stadium and make our way home a few minutes before the 2205 scheduled end of the session.   Sadly that means we missed the excitement of the Team GB win in the 5000m T54 event but we did make it back to Waterloo in time for our train home.  Again it is worth noting just how smoothly everything went.  Despite the huge numbers of people entering Stratford Station there was a steady flow of long tube trains arriving every few minutes to take people away.

A truly wonderful event and great to have had the chance to be there to experience the atmosphere and see all the things going on around the stadium that the TV coverage just doesn't capture in the same way.

In closing a word of thanks too to all of the Games Makers for the huge impact they have had in making our trip and the whole event the success it is.   The lady on the high chair outside Stratford Station getting the throngs of people heading into the station to join her in a rendition of "If you're happy and you know it..." was probably one of the most effective ways of defusing tension and stress at just the right moment that I've seen - genius.

If you want to see a few more photos from our trip to the Paralympics then they can be found in my Flickr Set London 2012 Paralympic Games.

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