I think most people would agree a kind of sad lull has fallen over the UK, in particular London, this week. The event everyone was moaning about and worrying about its impact actually had us all coming together and celebrating what it meant to be British. London 2012 – the Olympics and Paralympics.
A bit of a latecomer to the party, I attended the Paralympics just before it all finished, but I am so glad I did. What an experience.
As I blogged previously my first experience was at the Olympic Park at Stratford and all on offer there. However, my second visit was quite different.
On Saturday 8th September my boyfriend and I attended the Paralympics at the Excel Centre. Again, we were using day passes (allowing you access to various events if there are seats available). This time we were allowed to see Wheelchair Fencing, Boccia and Wheelchair Table Tennis.
We ended up seeing all three – with Boccia without a doubt definitely our favourite. We saw two games – one where GB were aiming for Bronze and the other where GB were aiming for Gold. The second was GB v Thailand and Thailand won. We all know by now how much I love Thailand so I told my boyfriend I would be happy whoever won. Pattaya Tadtong – who won – was so happy when he got Gold, it was very emotional to be there and an amazing experience.
It was funny though – the day was a real mixture of emotions and experiences. On the way to the Excel Centre we ended up going via the Royal Docks and really appreciated how beautiful London can be and how being from here you can really take it for granted. The Games Makers were as friendly and enthusiastic as ever, but unfortunately some staff in the Excel centre weren’t quite so cheerful!
When we went to watch Boccia the first time the seats were in an awful position so we moved and then one of the staff were fantastic and came to find us to say they’d spotted a better seat for us – what service! However, on going to watch the Wheelchair Table Tennis, one of the men’s attitude left a lot to be desired and just gave off a real air of not wanting to be there. He kept telling people very abruptly how they must not go past a certain seat and was getting people to get up and move to the very end of a row (for no reason there were loads of empty seats!) A real shame and the only one we experienced.
I also found the Excel didn’t have the same buzz about it as the Olympic Park – I guess understandable when you consider the size difference. Although once you were in the events themselves you could feel the atmosphere again. We even got to see a medal ceremony for the Boccia which was fantastic to watch and again had my emotions going!
After we’d finished at the Excel (after around 5 hours) we decided to try out the cable car from the Royal Docks to North Greenwich. I’d really recommend it actually. The ride itself only lasts around 5 minutes, but it’s priced pretty reasonably and even the huge queue we joined moved quickly. You get great views, particularly if you’re up there on a sunny day like we were.
We munched down some food and drink at the o2 and then made our way home – exhausted. Then it was off to bed that night ready for the excitement of the next day – the closing ceremony!