Second Paralympic experience

Before I won the Tickets for the Paralympics a friend on Facebook had asked me if I was going, long story short we arranged to go together. That Facebook friend is Ellie, we worked at the same Prison and I haven’t seen her for about 4 years now.  I booked tickets for the Women’s Sitting Volleyball finals, as Friday was the only day that Ellie could make I thought it would be the most exciting event that day. As with the athletics I booked a disabled parking space with First Travel, which was free.  There was only a short time where we were caught in traffic, after just one mistake on a roundabout we made it to the car park and a great parking space.

As with the Olympic Park the transition through to the Excel Centre was excellent, unlike the Olympic Park we were wheelchair fast-tracked too. We spent a short time outside soaking up the dockland view before heading inside. The whole centre was awash with an array of food stalls, as a major Paralympic sponsor I was surprised not to see a McDonalds in there though. It turned out that all the wheelchair seats were a stone’s throw from the court, which meant we had a great view. The only issue I had was that I’d paid for the best seat prices when I could have paid the cheapest rate and sat in the same place.  The first match was for the Bronze Medal between Ukraine and the Netherlands. It was over pretty quick as Ukraine annihilated the Netherlands to win in three straight sets. Two of the GB Volleyball team took time to come along and be interviewed in-between the two matches which we though was really nice of them. The second match was between China and the USA for Gold and Silver Medals. USA came out strong and it was a much tighter match but eventually China took the Gold by 3 sets to 1. Even though Team GB weren’t playing there was still a fantastic loud atmosphere throughout the matches. It looks an action packed sport when you watch it on TV but its not until you see it live that you realise just how fast paced and full on it really is. There were some really good rallies between China and the USA, which demonstrated the skill and determination the players have. We left just before the medals ceremony and with an exit issue I am glad we did. When we left the Volleyball court we were all being herded like cattle to the opposite end on the Excel Centre from where we came in. Instead of taking us back to the entrance and a quick journey to the car park we ended up at a train platform. They wouldn’t let us go back through the centre so we had two stops on a train and a long hard wheelchair push back to the car, I felt knackered.

All in all it was an excellent evening and I had a great time with Ellie. I didn’t realise when I booked the tickets that the Excel Centre was not part of the Olympic Park. I’m just sorry Ellie didn’t get to see Team GB or experience the Olympic Park, I actually felt really bad about that. I am so pleased that I went to the Paralympics though, I think I would have really regretted it in years to come if I had let it pass me by and not gone.


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