Day Nine: Competition Time

It’s competition time, it’s time to see if all the training and hard work has been worth it. All the preparation in the world could be useless if it doesn’t go right on the day.

ParalympicsGB definitely have the home advantage from all the crowds but the athletes need to make sure that they use it to their advantage and not let the pressure build.

I managed to get onto poolside to lifeguard during the competition itself and saw the Women’s 100M Butterfly and the Men’s 200M Individual Medley along with two medal ceremonies.

The atmosphere during races is phenomenal, the crowd goes absolutely crazy when a GB swimmer enters the field of play and all throughout the race.

Luckily today though, nobody needed saving.

Step count for the day: 11,515

Day Eight: Thorpe Park!

For my third day away from the park we decided to go hunting for thrills and excitement. We happened to find those thrills at Thorpe Park.

We arrived at the park just after 09:00 and after the usual ticket issues we entered the park itself at around 09:40 and headed straight to The Swarm, the newest coaster on the park.

The Swarm is Europe’s first winged coaster, basically that means that the carriages are mounted to the side of each train. Quite an awesome ride although it’s a little short in duration.

We tried to get through as many rides as possible between the rain, the best ride of the day has to be Saw: The Ride.

We had a fun day all in all, although due to the rain we had to leave at 14:30, damn you British weather!

Step count for the day: 7,468

Day Seven: ParalympicsGB

Today was my first shift where I saw the size and might of ParalympicsGB although only a small fraction of the team turned up, you could definitely tell they were here and that they were ready to put on a great show making the most of the home advantage. Even in training swimmers were pushing their PB’s (Personal Best’s) times and even setting new ones.

One South African swimmer took a mighty ten seconds off his lifetime PB! I can’t wait to see what he’ll do come competition time…

I can really cannot wait to see what the next eleven days of sport have to offer.

Step count for the day: 6,464

Day Six: Another Day On The Pool

Paralympic Flags on the Warmup Pool at the Aquatics Centre

Following the regular commute into the Olympic Park I arrived at the Aquatics Centre full of energy following my two days off shift.

Following a few rotations around poolside I was told in a conversation that there were 49 television cameras around the pool for Olympic Swimming and only 9 for the Paralympic Swimming.

This rose a question in my head ‘Why are the Paralympics treated so differently than the Olympics?’ I find it quite upsetting that for some reason the Paralympics are treated in some way ’second grade’ to the Olympics. In my eyes Paralympians have achieved so much more than Olympians, considering what they have had to overcome to compete at this level. Especially when you consider the wide variety of ’disabilities’ these true heroes have.

I’d like to know your thoughts on this, let me know in the comments section below.

Step count for the day: 6,464

Day Five: Emirates Air Line

View of the O2 from Emirates Air Line

For the second of my days off I we decided that we would take a ride on the Emirates Air Line.

After a bus ride to the O2 Arena we hopped onto the cable car itself, albeit short in duration (less than 8 minutes) the views were stunning and you could see for miles every way.

We then went to London Bridge via the DLR and after grabbing a bit to eat at a Subway we headed towards Tower Bridge to see the Paralympic symbol the Agitos which looked quite small when compared to the Olympic Rings.

After a short day out we headed back to our hotel.

Step count for the day: 9,148

Day Four: Typical London Tourist

Agitos on London Bridge

Today was one of my days off from the Paralympics. Just like any typical day in the Nations Capital, the day started bright and sunny. As usual this was not to last.

After an hours bus ride into the Capital we alighted just before one of the most famous landmarks, Big Ben. From there we walked past The London Eye through all the street performers including a London Phone Box and two seemingly floating Genies.

From there we ventured onto the other side of the Thames. Where we found a little restaurant called ’Herman ze German’ on Villiers Street who serve all sorts of German sausages. I’d recommend the Curry Wurst with Fries. We then carried on into Covent Garden, where we looked at all the stalls and made the compulsory visit to the Apple Store. After having a bite to eat and seeing Big Ben (which looked much smaller than I remembered) we headed off back to the hotel to get some rest.

Step count for the day: 12,150

Day Three: More Swimmers!

The day started just like the last; no swimmers at all. Surprisingly at around 5PM, it seemed like the entirety of the Athletes Village turned up at once, which was a huge surprise based off the previous days. We definitely weren’t going to complain about this.

Russia, Canada, Cuba & Ukraine to name a few all came looking for a swim. It is amazing what skills the swimmers have; athletes without the use of their legs haul themselves around the side of the pool and onto the starting blocks with such ease, athletes that are normally confined to their wheelchairs come alive when they are introduced to the water and the swimmer without his arms who, which such speed propels himself from the starting blocks and through the water using either butterfly or breaststroke kick.

I can feel the Paralympics becoming a truly amazing experience.

Step count for the day: 10,291

Day Two: Eton Manor

Today is my first shift at the dedicated training venue on the Olympic Park itself.

The Eton Manor training facility is essentially a huge tent, I say huge as it has three 10 lane 50 meter swimming pools side by side; at one side there is a full size synchronised swimming pool and at the other is a full size water polo pool also attached to the top of the middle of the three Olympic size pools is a gym with all verities of equipment for the athletes to use. All this is joined by four changing rooms and a huge medical area where the athletes can receive massages and the like. Quite impressive if you consider that after all it’s just a temporary structure.

Step count for the day: 7,951

Day One: Welcome Athletes

Paralympics Aquatics Logo

Today is my first shift at the Aquatics Centre in preparation for the London 2012 Paralympic Games. It’s just seven days till the Opening Ceremony! I board the first of my two trains into the Park, filled with but not expressing huge excitement and suspense about what is to come.

For me the Paralympic’s and it’s Athletes are some of the greatest performers on earth, once you see some of the disabilities the Athletes have got you realise just how much they have overcome in order to compete on a World stage. It’s just staggering!

First in the competition pool is South Africa. It is just amazing how diverse the teams are. Several of the visually impaired swimmers have their coaches stand at the end of their lane whose job it is to tap the swimmer with a soft pole to indicate to the swimmer that they should start their tumble turn.

It is once again amazing to see what the swimmers have to overcome to be at the top of their sport, for that reason I think they all deserve our maximum respect.

Step count for the day: 4,706