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Blog: The Paralympics

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We arose VERY EXCITED INDEED on Saturday, for we had tickets to THE PARALYMPICS!

We also had free zones 1-9 travel passes, which came with the tickets, so decided to USE them. Thus The Towns In My County and I had a JAUNT to ESSEX in the morning. We went on the Central Line to have a look at LOUGHTON, which was Surprisingly Lovely - it was like a proper town, or big village, with loads of people about, ACE high street and even CRICKET! We had a HIKE through a DELIGHTFUL park and ended up on what appeared to be a PARKWAY, like we have in Peterborough, along which people drove to GYMS in the middle of nowhere.

We walked all the way to Chigwell. I think we both preferred Loughton.

One EXCITING tube journey later (i have never been on the MYSTERIOUS LOOP of the Central Line before, ZOOMING through countryside and beautiful old fashioned railway stations before suddenly, confusingly, being thrown into what looked like a missing chunk of the Berlin Metro) we were in Paralympic Stratford for a spot of lunch and then a visit to what is becoming our LOCAL - Tap East! It's a proper ALE/Craft Beer bar in a shopping centre, it's ACE!

Soon it was time to go to the Olympic Park, which was like returning to a DREAMLAND. Everyone - staff, volunteers, punters - all looked so HAPPY. When we were WHISKED through security people working there TALKED to us and said "Have a great evening!" and MEANT it. Inside the park a WENLOCK, dressed as a beefeater, went by, waving from the back of a buggy and perfectly sensible people were going LOOPY with happiness. We stood near the Aquatics centre and heard ROARS of cheering from within - it was like thousands of people in LOVE with the whole idea of being there.

We had a bit of a wander round the site, looking at the GORGEOUS wild flowers and... er... the megastore, which again was packed full of GRINNING people, trying to find a part of the experience they could keep forever. Getting into the stadium took a couple of SECONDS, we got some BEER, and then went inside.

AND THEN WE WERE IN THE STADIUM!!! Having seen it on telly so often it seemed unreal - there was the torch! The evening of athletics WHIPPED by, it was like being in an Alternative Universe with a whole range of different SUPERSTARS doing slightly different sports. My BRANE found it hard to cope with some parts - watching the BLADE RUNNERS getting ready to run felt like watching some CGI Extravaganza!

We soon stopped looking at the Differently Bodied and starting MARVELLING at the sport - it seemed like every race was a WORLD RECORD! We watched three heats of the 200m and saw THREE WORLD RECORDS! I was TWEETING about how many there'd been, and missed ANOTHER world record in the long jump (which, by the way, was INCREDIBLE!). I think the most incredible thing I saw was the blind 100m, where four blind/partially sighted female athletes ran, some of them with GUIDES. They were running ATTACHED to big burly MEN! It took AGES to work out what was going on - it turns out they're their COACHES, helping them NOT run off their lanes, but also, I think, shouting ADVICE.

How on earth is that NOT already the basis for a romcom? COME ON HOLLYWOOD!!

We were right up at the very top of the stadium, but were surprised by how easy it was to see what was going on. It all felt quite COSY and close, although we did have to squint a bit to see some of the track events. I felt a bit sorry for the javelin and shot-put lot, sometimes we'd be concentrating on them but whenever there was a TRACK event everyone concentrated on THAT instead. I guess they're used to it, but it did seem off-putting!

We stayed right to the very end to watch the last of the medal presentations, then headed to the PUB. Here we found the volunteers JUST as happy, but this time not necessarily in such easy situations. SO MANY of us were heading towards the Javelin (we were going back to the PUB, which is NEAR there) that they had to set up Pedestrian Traffic Controls. Many people in the crowd were getting RESTLESS and ANNOYED, wanting to get onto TRAINS and HOME, but the Volunteers had to stay JOLLY and keep them BACK. They smiled, they talked to us, and they got everyone SINGING - it wasn't the MOST sincere version of "If you're happy and you know it clap your hands" I've ever heard a crowd sing, but it DID work and it DID keep the mood light.

As we were released, and headed back to Tap East, it did make me think TWO things: 1) I wonder who did the BRILLIANT training? 2) why can't ALL crowd control people be trained so well? Bloody hell, why can't the POLICE be that good? How many ANGRY SCENES would be defused if, instead of SILENT GLARING, refusual to communicate and BATON CHARGES, the police smiled, explained what was happening, and led a chorus of THE HOKEY COKEY?

We mused on this and other matters as we enjoyed our beers in Tap East, a place which seems to have become a HANGOUT for volunteers, Olympians and, now, Paralympians. We heard all sorts of accents and voice, all blissfully happy with a wonderful event. It was magical!

posted 4/9/2012 by MJ Hibbett

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posted 7/9/2012 by ME

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posted 7/9/2012 by ME

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