After hours and hours patiently(or maybe not so patiently) trawling the London 2012 website, I despaired of ever getting tickets to the Olympic Park. The olympics came and went without success. Each time I tried for the paralympics, there was nothing. One evening my luck finally changed and I finally managed to obtain one ticket to the paralympic athletics.
Clutching my computer printed sheet of gold, I made my way to Stratford and joined the fast flowing river of people heading for the Olympic Park. The whole entry process was extremely well organised, with little queuing even to have my bag scanned.
Crossing the bridge into the Park, I had to pause for a few moments to to take in my first sight of the stadium and orbit dominating the cloudless blue skyline.
It was quite cool early in the morning and I was glad of my denim jacket. Later as the sun rose higher, dismissing the shade, I was thankful for my sunhat. I was lucky with my seat, 11 rows from the track and just by the start of the 200 metres start and not far from the long jump. The stadium really is cleverly designed and despite its huge capacity, I felt very close to the action and had a good view over the whole stadium, so even on the other side of the track, people didn’t feel like small dots on the horizon.
The skill of the blind girl long jumpers is very humbling. T o run and then jump not being able to see a straight line or the white board, relying only on the claps by their guides takes courage and trust.
My favourite events were the 200 metre both the running and especially the wheelchair races. Also taking place was the discus which GB won, though it wasn’t easy to watch. Some of the javelin throwing was very impressive as well.
All too soon the morning session was over and I made my way out of the stadium and into the park, joining the mass of other people doing the same. It really is a vast place and I’m sure I only walked around half of it, following the riverside walks, which could have been quite characterless had it not been for the colourful array of flowers that flanked the route. I particularly liked that they were planted in a wild and random fashion and even though it was coming to the end of their season, they still looked amazing.
It was an added surprise to come across the Royal Barge, moored incongruously on the river between the railway station and the stadium. Its gold and red decor gleamed in the sunshine and shimmered in the sun-glinting water.
By now my feet were objecting to so much walking, so I indulged in an ice cream (justified by the amount of calories, I’d sweated in the heat) and found a comfortable bench where I sat and read until I’d had enough and made my way back to Stratford station and the journey home.
Though it would have been lovely to share the experience with someone, I’m so glad I went. It really was a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity and in years to come I will be able to say “I was there”.