Saturday, 8 September 2012

London 2012 Paralympics

Finally made it to the Olympic site for the 2012 Paralympics. The day started with blind 5-a-side football between Iran and Turkey at the Riverbank Arena. It was fantastic on so many levels. Not only is it good to watch as a sporting event but the players disability becomes an integral part of the game. An amazing set of skills are displayed by blindfolded players who dribble, pass and shoot at goal with astonishing accuracy. The bone crunching tackles can be felt and heard in the stands. It made me realise how pathetic, lily-livered, overpaid Premiership footballers are. To think they dive and cheat, theatrically faining injury to gain an unfair advantage. They wouldn’t last five minutes with the courageous (and I do mean courageous) blind five-a-side teams.

The next game was The People’s Republic of China against Team GB. Despite the crowd getting behind the home team the game finished, as all of our national football matches do, with Team GB loosing on penalties.

From the football I went to Eton Manor for the wheelchair tennis. I have no idea how the players achieve such skills but to watch wheelchair tennis is to be astonished and inspired.

On to the Copper Box and the women’s Goalball. This is a strange game played with three blind goalkeepers trying to throw a large, heavy ball, which contains a bell, into a goal protected by three opposing blind goalkeepers. It takes some time to get into especially as the crowd must remain silent during the game to enable the players to hear the ball. Sweden drew with Japan 1-1 and yet another game went to penalties, which Japan won. There was a great party atmosphere inside the Copper box with the "Macarena" being particularly popular when the crowd were let loose during stoppages in play. The use of music and an MC was very impressive and certainly added to the whole experience.

From the Copper Box to the Basketball Arena and to a game I would gladly pay to watch outside of the Olympics. Wheelchair Rugby or ‘murderball’ has it has become known. Canada beat Belgium in a game that has more in common with American Football than rugby. The players smash into each other, openly trying to tip wheelchairs over and block players off by trapping them on the court, unable to move and take part in play. It’s fast moving, lots of points are scored and the organisers had a soundtrack playing, along with a live commentary, throughout the game, which enhanced the overall experience.

What a fantastic day. What a fantastic event.

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