Sorry for the day without update. The are so many things to be shared but I was getting ill and had to take measures. The only non-managed element of this event is the weather. Shame for the all weather forecasting sites including accuweather – instead of the promised 20 degrees it was 8 on 31.08 night. I was not prepared for the winter, so had to do urgently some shopping.
Of course it was compensated today. First visited event was the morning athletics session. I entered the stadium during the victory ceremony of men 200 m. run T42 won by Richard Whitehead (GB). 80 000 people were singing the GB anthem. I wished I was a British at this moment. After that there were men 1500 m run heats. The leaders took the distance for about 4 minutes. But there was an athlete from Djibouti who took the first round for 3 minutes. All of us thought that he will collapse after the first 400 m. But he continued running one more and another one….and another one. The 80 000 were standing and shouting and applauding. Some with tears in the eyes (you can imagine that I was among these ones). What a spirit, what determination and strength this one showed. He did it for more than 11 minutes and was ready to continue if the referees did not stopped him. Every single cell of his body was dedicated to this race.
After that I visited Goalball – the special Paralympic sport for blinded people. It is played in absolutely silence as the players understand the ball position by the sound of the bells in the ball. One of the players throws the ball with full power against the door of the opposite team and the three players from the defending team toss on the floor to save the ball. The match was Sweden vs Canada. I was supporting Sweden (some friends living there…). So, we won 🙂 It was very interesting that I met there the second lady from the flight to London that was traveling for the Paralympics. She is from Varna and is a referee in Goalball. So she explained me that this sport is practiced in Bulgaria and we even have a national team (still not competing in the Games) Very good news and wish them luck to qualify for Rio’2016.
After the Goalball I visited football 7a – a football version for disabled. The technical director of the federation set next to me and explained me some interesting things. Currently this game is played on the summer hockey field – artificial wet flooring but the federation is thinking to change it in order to make this sport more popular (I believe this flooring is very expensive one). The match was Ukraine vs USA. No intrigue there. The Ukrainians were playing like the national football team of Sweden vs the Bulgarian one on the EU 2004 (and some other matches also). Even the result was similar – 10:0. But I am thinking that these Ukrainians will easily defeat our “football nationals”.
The good news for Bulgaria – we have our first medal. Radoslav Zlatanov won bronze in the long jump with a personal best 6.81 m. Very well done Rado. Several record were beaten today. Among them – the superhuman Oskar Pistorious.
Today I visited two events – the wheelchair basketball an the cycling track. Absolutely fabulous. The basketball match was Japan vs Canada. There was one player from Canadian team – Patrik Anserson (N:12) that was absolutely amazing. He scored more than 30 points in the first half. He was fighting under the baskets, speeding up, scoring from 3-rd point line, returning in defense, blocking the others, steeling the ball. Even more – he was chasing the ball when the game was stopped and was returning it to the referees. The movements of his body were so professional, so I thought he lost his legs when he was already playing basketball. So, I checked in the ATOS software – no, he lost his legs in a car accident when he was 9 and was practicing basketball only as disabled. You have to see the power and the passion that this man has for the sport. Despite a basketball, he is dealing professionally with music and studies in college in USA. Congratulations for the Japanese team trying to organize the defense against this Superhuman (see the C4 channel clips of Superhumans in Youtube). You have to see also the public…no words for express this.
The cycling was absolutely fantastic. I really can not imagine how these athletes without arms and legs are balancing on the bicycles, speeding up with one leg riding and beating records. I checked in the internet – the world record of the Chinese athlete who won C1-2-3 1km final yesterday is better than the Bulgarian national record. The British public is really fanatic about their Team GB.
Otherwise, it was a normal productive start that some of us know very well– testing in live system, new concept implementations, manual workarounds, new roles and tasks in the last 24 hours, some key people with red eyes sleeping in the office for 48 hours, greetings from the management with polite focus on the issues. Everything that we have seen tens of times in the last years. The important thing is that the system finally works and the Paralympic.org site is visited by more people in one day compared with the whole previous Paralympic games.
It was incredible, impressive, unbelievable. I was wondering what will be the message about the disabled people – tolerance, integration, acceptance? No, it was much stronger. It was “I Am What I Am”, an unique part of this universe and my place in it is as important as yours. Everybody has a potential and only with creativity, spirit and knowledge we can make this world a better place. The words of Sebastian Coe “Sport is about what you can do, what you can achieve, the limits you can reach, the barriers you can break. Sport shows what is possible. Sport refuses to take no for an answer” explained why this event is so important for the world. The most remarkable moments: the appearance of Stephen Hawking – the most famous physicist of our times; the presence of the Queen and the royal family (sitting about 20 rows far away from my place); the flying athletes, some of them in wheelchairs; the dancing bird; the Bulgarian team of 8 athletes – wish them luck!; Oscar Pistorius – the most famous disabled athlete who competed in the South Africa Olympic team; the Team GB fanatically applauded by 70 000 people; the torch arrival from the space; the fireworks; the flag of IPC escorted by the GB wheelchair basketball team; the thousands of volunteers who cheered the public. It was one of the unforgettable moments in the live. I am proud and thankful that I was there.
The arrival in London was on time. The first accreditation office was already in the transfer zone before the passport checks. 5 volunteers are processing the documents. Unfortunately only two passengers from our flight were traveling for the Paralympics. The real surprise were the tens of volunteers in the Heathrow arrival hall. They took the luggage and assorted me to another group of volunteers dealing with the cars. One of them drove me with a brand new BMW 520 with IPC logo to the student house where I am staying (the driver work is also a volunteer one). The lady explained that there were about 4000 cars like this one that will be sold with a great discount after the games. The lady was extremely proud with the performance of Team GB at the Olympics and was expecting the Paralympics with impatience. All London streets have huge posters with disabled athletes advertising the Games.