Jo Healy examines a long seventh day of the Paralympics.
By Jo Healy. Last Updated: September 5, 2012 11:12pm
A long seventh day of the Paralympics, but a fun one all the same. I was based at the ExCel again to present two sitting volleyball sessions, which saw the beginning of the men's quarter finals and the women's semi-finals. I think the fatigue of 5am taxis and 15hour days is starting to catch up with those working at the Games, but at the same time the crowds are so excited and full of energy that they keep everyone going.
I was particularly pleased with the support today. It didn't matter that Great Britain weren't playing during the day (the men had their quarter final this evening but unfortunately lost to the defending champions Iran in three sets). The arena was still well and truly buzzing. People were singing and clapping along to the music, and cheering for the fantastic speed and skill of the players.
One woman came up to me in the stands to say how much she was loving the sitting volleyball. She was decked out in GB colours and wore a chic headband that had sequined Union Jacks bouncing around on springs above her head. She said she had told everyone she knew that the sitting volleyball was the best atmosphere she had seen at the ExCel, and if they got the chance to see it they should.
It is something that a number of people have commented on and I have certainly noticed myself too. That people have been extremely friendly during the Paralympics and Olympics, as if the Games have brought the country together. I am stereotyping your normal Londoner when I say this, so of course this doesn't apply to everyone, but people mind their own business and keep to themselves. Now if you smile at someone they smile back. Usually, they look at you as if you are crazy.
I found it funny that a couple of the Games Makers commented on how long I had been working today. I had a chat with them and agreed it was a long day, but they had been there for as long as I had too. When you think about it, everyone involved in the Paralympics is in the same vote. Lots of people are tired and overworked, but an event as significant as the Games won't happen again in many of our lifetimes. It's important to embrace it and run on the adrenalin created by the amazing atmosphere. I think that is what most people are doing already, and it helps everyone to get through and creates a sense of community. You lean on me, I lean on you.
Luckily I found the time to see some of the wheelchair fencing before I left the ExCel. The arena is the same venue that held the judo in the first few days of competition, so I had been before but this time it felt more intimate. I think that is because with judo floor was very open, which created space and therefore the arena looked bigger. Today it was tighter. There were a number of fencing zones that can be used for competition at the same time, so the action spreads wider and as a spectator you are closer to the action.
The strangest thing about the wheelchair fencing was seeing the same Thai reporter that I met at the wheelchair tennis yesterday. The odd aspect is that he was in the same gold Buddhist dress, temple headpiece, and Thailand flag around his waist that he had on yesterday. As vibrantly kitted out as he was, I couldn't miss him really.