Monday, 3 September 2012


Paralympics: An international athletic competition for disabled athletes.

Unless you've been living in a cave for the past 2 months, you'll know that the Paralympics are happening at the moment. 
There are massive differences between the Olympics and the Paralympics, for one the logo is completely different. For the Olympics it's the well known 5 interlocking rings, whereas the Paralympics have 'swoops' that "represent the Paralympic motto 'spirit in motion'."*

From top left, clockwise: One image of Olympics rings, three images of Paralympics Agitos

The sports are different; some adapted for the disabilities of the athletes, some completely different- such as goalball, and boccia.

I for one think that the paralympics are vastly underrated until it actually happens.
Whereas there's such a massive build up for the Olympics, once it's over people tend to forget about it until they see the Paralympics happen- and realise just how amazing it is.

I was very fortunate to be able to get a day pass for the Excel centre on Thursday. For the past 3 months I've been trying and trying to get tickets for either the Olympics/Paralympics, I didn't care where or what I saw, I just wanted to say that I'd been part of history. When I saw they had tickets up I literally ran to my dad screaming "tickets tickets tickets!!!". Thankfully he saw quite how desperate I was and bought some for me and my brother.

I have to admit, I wasn't prepared for the day like I thought I was. I genuinely thought I'd go in there, watch a couple of sports and then go home again- not being a majorly sporty person.
But it was so much more than that, for the Games Makers greeting you at every corner, to walking up the stairs to the seats in the arena (I thought it felt like I was climbing the stairs to an x factor audition, if you get what I mean).

It was all very exciting, they used all of the arenas and packed them out.

We first went into the Table Tennis, there were 8 matches going on at the same time so was pretty hard to focus on just one match but I kept my eye on the scores. The athletes were either in a wheelchair or with prosthetics/limps. Being able to move and keep control as an able bodied person is ridiculously hard in my opinion (or maybe that's cause I'm so uncoordinated) but it was really admirable.
A Team GB athlete came out and there was a massive cheer, although she was in the pitch/area/table bit furthest away from us so was pretty hard to tell if anything was happening!
We were pretty close to the nearest match, and we had fun guessing their nationalities!

So the sport I really wanted to see was Judo, and we waited in a mahusive queue to get in as having a day pass didn't give us priority to the sports.
Eventually we got in, and man was it worth it!
We sat pretty close and there were only two mats this time so was a lot easier to focus on what was happening. We sat there and watched for 10 minutes and I started thinking "Well, they're fighting as i nothings wrong, why is this the paralympics?!" After pondering for a while, we realised that the athletes were actually being led into the arena, onto the mat and the referee was very hands on.
That's right- they were visually impaired. They did judo, without being able to see properly. Wow.
I can't say how much of a hindrance their sight was to them, but it genuinely didn't look like they were at all. But judging by the actions of the referee (placing their hands on each other at the start of each round, leading them to the centre of the mat) they were pretty impaired.
The fought for their livelihood- and it was so amazing to watch. The atmosphere was so supportive.
Then Ben Quilter came out, Team GB. He cheer he got was incredible, everyone was chanting "Ben", clapping, stamping their feet.
You know when you watch on TV, and everyone cheers for Team GB?
Well it was actually like that, was so good to be part of it.
Ben actually lost the match I saw but went on to win the rest and win the bronze at the end of the day!
But every throw, every move- the crowd was behind him 100%.

(This wasn't actually Ben fighting)

So my brother really wanted to see sitting volleyball, so off we trot to the arena next door.
And wow, just wow.
I've never seen inspiration quite like watching those guys.
So Sitting Volleyball is just what it says, they're on the floor playing volleyball. The net is 1.5m high for men and 1.05m for women. I'm not sure what I expected, but I definitely didn't expect to be quite so moved by watching them.
We watched Team GB vs Russia, Russia's ranked 4th in the world, we're 24th so the odds didn't look great from the start.
When Team GB came out, I have never experienced anything like it.
I've been to concerts, seen Paramore in the O2 with thousands of other people, but nothing matches the cheer that those guys got coming onto the court.
There was clapping, cheering, stamping, flag waving, screaming, chanting; all mixed together to welcome them.
The team is actually allowed 2 'minimal disability' players, but only one allowed on the court at any point. These guys had both legs, working normally (or it seemed so) so I imagine their disability was elsewhere. The rest of the team either had one leg or no legs.
I'm a vein person, I admit that- I care way too much about my appearance, and when the team came out I was almost in tears. I had so much pride and respect for our team (and the Russian one too) for overcoming their 'disability' and to train and work hard to compete for our country, well that was just amazing.
The team was introduced one by one, each getting a massive cheer. The team has a special player, I think they acted as a captain/coach but a player (or something like that), and when he was introduced I noticed a group of soldiers in the crowd. As they announced his name the soldiers started shouting like I've never heard and holding up banners for this man- they were so proud of him.
After doing a little research I've found out he was "a Gurkha who was injured on patrol in Afghanistan and who has come through the Ministry of Defence's Battle Back programme"
This man had basically had his legs blown off in Afghanistan, overcame all of that then became so good at sitting volleyball to be the special captain person in Team GB. If that's not incredible I don't know what is!
Team GB.

The enthusiasm of the crowd continued throughout the whole match and I really felt like we were all right there with the athletes, every point they scored we cheered, and every point they lost we groaned.
It was an hour of unforgettable true patriotism.
We actually lost the match, but we improved throughout the whole time and we played so well.

 In play. Like I said, we had amazing seats.
It was after the Sitting Volleyball we felt so drained, physically and emotionally. (Well me anyways) 
We tried to queue for the Power Lifting but the queue was hundreds and hundreds of people long and they'd stopped letting people in the arena. Doing a one in-one out system would mean we'd have been standing in the queue for hours!

We called it a day and went home.
I went home really inspired, with so much respect and pride for our Paralympians.
I complain about being bad at sport and therefore never doing it- I can imagine it's so much harder with a disability; but they overcome that and strive to be the best that they can to compete for our country.

My 2 pence on the Paralympics there, hope you enjoyed :)

Have you been watching? Or been lucky enough to witness it yourself?

Love, Elizabeth xx

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PS- I had the most hectic week last week and now I'm away for a leadership training university thing.
Camping again.
I promise I will get back to you all, just give me a couple weeks. I'm home for a week after Friday then back to uni!

(scheduled post)


  1. your photos look amazing!
    i am so jealous!
    i've tuned in to a few things on the paralympics and they are so inspirational!

  2. Wow. I'd never seen any of the Paralympics until this year and I feel horrible for not watching it in previous years. I watched the running the other day and cried. It's just amazing what they do, that they have the courage to do events just shows that it doesn't matter what disability you have, you can do something extraordinary with it! These athletes are so inspirational and I have so much respect for them.
    Hope you enjoy your lectures, you should be a camping pro by now :D

    Just Smile.


  3. Great post !

    Cool to see that you were there !

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  4. I have been loving watching the paralympics. It always makes me so emotional :') when you hear their back-stories and how much they have been through to get to where they are now. It really puts your life into perspective! xxx

  5. Hi Elizabeth! What a wonderful post. I really enjoyed reading and looking at the great pictures.You are such a kind,loving and caring person and I'm so happy you share some of your life with us.

    We kind of live in a We don't watch tv and only have the radio on to hear the farm report. I have heard of the Paralympics but not much more.
    So happy to read your post about it and see the now I understand it much better. Thank you so much!!!!

    Love,Joann xxxx

  6. amazing, So happy to read your post about it and see the pictures!!!
    Thanks for sharing :)

  7. Nice! I envy you! I wish I was there

  8. Lucky you for going! I think it's underrated too and the athletes should definitely get more recognition and be more famous, they're amazing! XxxX

  9. Aw that looks really cool, must've been so inspiring and fun to see!