diamond geezer

 Sunday, September 09, 2012

I went to the Paralympics on Friday.
I had a Day Pass for the events at ExCel.
And that's four more Paralympic sports ticked off.


Ah, the ExCel Day Pass, one of the bargains of the Games. For only £10 you could wander around a giant exhibition centre for twelve hours, popping in to watch four different sports (including several medal sessions). They might be some of the more obscure Paralympic sports, but that's not a bad thing if you want to see the true spirit of the Games. And it was unreserved seating throughout, pretty much, which meant I got some excellent close-up seats for a change in a variety of arenas.
One grump - the lack of information about precisely what was taking place in each arena. On turning up at each spectator zone there was nothing to say what event was underway, nor what might be up next, nor how long it was until the next action. I knew to turn up at the Table Tennis at half past twelve for men's gold medal matches because I'd checked online, whereas all everyone else had was "Table Tennis 10:00-15:00". The central information booth only had photocopies of photocopies of photocopies of something over-general, plus a few specific printouts sellotaped to a board with all the key information in tiny type. It's as if the Games Makers at each Paralympic venue have been left to their own devices regarding how they provide session information, and some do a brilliant job, and some are rubbish.

Boccia - South Arena 1
In this little-known game, competitors who aren't especially mobile (or coordinated) play a ball-throwing game that's similar to bowls or petanque. Each player throws six balls - one player red, one blue - with a final score equal to the number of balls closest to the jack. I'm not sure I'd have worked the rules out by myself, so I'm indebted to the lady sat on my left for explaining all. In the games in front of me, both players were in wheelchairs and in need of help to move around, but still threw brilliantly to gain tactical advantage. In the game to my right, however, the players were so disabled that they couldn't even hold a ball. They had to knock the ball instead, using a stick attached to the top of their helmet, so that it rolled down a tubular ramp aimed by an assistant. Again, it was amazing how often the balls rolled to nigh exactly the right place. The judges performed all their directions and scoring in silence, using gestures and signals and coloured bats, which added to the unfamiliarity. But very tense, if you allowed yourself to get into watching it, and about as far from running a 100m race as you can imagine. Serious disability sport.

Wheelchair Fencing - North Arena 2
You might be imagining white-clad folk in wheelchairs whizzing up and down like knights at a mediaeval joust. The sword-wielding bit's true, but these athletes are going nowhere, their wheelchairs carefully bolted to the floor before competition begins. There are a lot of preparations - indeed the entire event's more set-up than play. Is everybody sitting the correct distance apart, check. Are both players wearing their heavy white conductive aprons, check? Does the coloured light flash up when someone scores a hit, check. Let's play. I got to watch the women's team quarter finals, which meant four simultaneous tournaments taking place within the same arena. Most of the audience were cheering on the British girls, despite them being invisible from our side of the arena except on the big screen. Trounced by Hong Kong, they were. Let's never speak of it again.

Sitting Volleyball - South Arena 2
This is ordinary volleyball, but with the levelling factor that every player competes with "at least one buttock in contact with the floor". This means it can be played by athletes with any number of legs - indeed the British men's team displays almost every different possible combination. Some walk onto the court, some shuffle, others crawl - then you'd hardly notice the difference when the game gets underway. Rallies are swift, the ball sometimes high in the air, sometimes dangerously near the ground. Thwack, lob, lob, thwack, pat, pass, lob, thwack, bounce, cheer. There's much yelling to team mates, a lot of co-operation, and plenty of backslapping when a point goes well. It is amazing to watch a team of six manoeuvring into position without standing up, and the physicality probably explains why this is a game for fired-up youngsters. Our hyped-up commentator was so busy enthusing the crowd that he completely failed to mention we were watching the wooden spoon match. We thought we were cheering Great Britain to glory, whereas in fact we were battling China for eighth place in the overall tournament. Straight sets defeat, but hey, the crowd went away loving it.

Table Tennis - North Arena 1
Played at elite level this is a fast and furious sport. But a tiny table in a huge arena doesn't make spectating easy. We had four finals matches to watch in two classes, so it was hard to know where to look. The scoring was complicated to unravel too, with simultaneous points in simultaneous games in simultaneous best-of-five matches. The broadcast cameras focused on the match between China and Germany, but that was pictures without words because the commentators weren't allowed to say anything while any game was underway. I was glad I'd had my London 2012 Commentary Radio (an over-ear mini plastic device tuned into arena-specific channels at every Olympic venue) because I could listen in to the audio description nobody else could hear. I think their price has recently been slashed (they're only £5 now), and they double up as FM radios after the Games have finished. Transmission carries far enough that I can listen to commentary from venues in the Olympic Park while sat at home in my living room! Commentary Radios were available from certain programme sellers at various venues, but dear LOCOG, these were appallingly marketed. Sorry, I know I'm offering this top tip too late, but I wish I'd bought mine earlier.

Photos: [boccia] [wheelchair fencing] [sitting volleyball] [table tennis]


<< click for Newer posts

click for Older Posts >>


click to return to the main page


...or read more in my monthly archives
Jan16  Feb16  Mar16  Apr16  May16  Jun16  Jul16  Aug16  Sep16  Oct16  Nov16  Dec16
Jan15  Feb15  Mar15  Apr15  May15  Jun15  Jul15  Aug15  Sep15  Oct15  Nov15  Dec15
Jan14  Feb14  Mar14  Apr14  May14  Jun14  Jul14  Aug14  Sep14  Oct14  Nov14  Dec14
Jan13  Feb13  Mar13  Apr13  May13  Jun13  Jul13  Aug13  Sep13  Oct13  Nov13  Dec13
Jan12  Feb12  Mar12  Apr12  May12  Jun12  Jul12  Aug12  Sep12  Oct12  Nov12  Dec12
Jan11  Feb11  Mar11  Apr11  May11  Jun11  Jul11  Aug11  Sep11  Oct11  Nov11  Dec11
Jan10  Feb10  Mar10  Apr10  May10  Jun10  Jul10  Aug10  Sep10  Oct10  Nov10  Dec10 
Jan09  Feb09  Mar09  Apr09  May09  Jun09  Jul09  Aug09  Sep09  Oct09  Nov09  Dec09
Jan08  Feb08  Mar08  Apr08  May08  Jun08  Jul08  Aug08  Sep08  Oct08  Nov08  Dec08
Jan07  Feb07  Mar07  Apr07  May07  Jun07  Jul07  Aug07  Sep07  Oct07  Nov07  Dec07
Jan06  Feb06  Mar06  Apr06  May06  Jun06  Jul06  Aug06  Sep06  Oct06  Nov06  Dec06
Jan05  Feb05  Mar05  Apr05  May05  Jun05  Jul05  Aug05  Sep05  Oct05  Nov05  Dec05
Jan04  Feb04  Mar04  Apr04  May04  Jun04  Jul04  Aug04  Sep04  Oct04  Nov04  Dec04
Jan03  Feb03  Mar03  Apr03  May03  Jun03  Jul03  Aug03  Sep03  Oct03  Nov03  Dec03
 Jan02  Feb02  Mar02  Apr02  May02  Jun02  Jul02 Aug02  Sep02  Oct02  Nov02  Dec02 

eXTReMe Tracker
jack of diamonds
life viewed from london e3

email    twitter    G+

my flickr photostream

What's on this weekend?
Sun 4 December (8am-10pm)
Tower Bridge fully closed
For one day only, cross the river by free passenger ferry!

twenty blogs
853
arseblog
ian visits
londonist
scaryduck
blue witch
city metric
the great wen
onionbagblog
edith's streets
spitalfields life
linkmachinego
in the aquarium
round the island
wanstead meteo
london museums
christopher fowler
ruth's coastal walk
london reconnections
dirty modern scoundrel

quick reference features
Things to do in Outer London
The DG Tour of Britain
Comment Value Hierarchy

read the archive
Dec16  Nov16  Oct16  Sep16
Aug16  Jul16  Jun16  May16
Apr16  Mar16  Feb16  Jan16
Dec15  Nov15  Oct15  Sep15
Aug15  Jul15  Jun15  May15
Apr15  Mar15  Feb15  Jan15
Dec14  Nov14  Oct14  Sep14
Aug14  Jul14  Jun14  May14
Apr14  Mar14  Feb14  Jan14
Dec13  Nov13  Oct13  Sep13
Aug13  Jul13  Jun13  May13
Apr13  Mar13  Feb13  Jan13
Dec12  Nov12  Oct12  Sep12
Aug12  Jul12  Jun12  May12
Apr12  Mar12  Feb12  Jan12
Dec11  Nov11  Oct11  Sep11
Aug11  Jul11  Jun11  May11
Apr11  Mar11  Feb11  Jan11
Dec10  Nov10  Oct10  Sep10
Aug10  Jul10  Jun10  May10
Apr10  Mar10  Feb10  Jan10
Dec09  Nov09  Oct09  Sep09
Aug09  Jul09  Jun09  May09
Apr09  Mar09  Feb09  Jan09
Dec08  Nov08  Oct08  Sep08
Aug08  Jul08  Jun08  May08
Apr08  Mar08  Feb08  Jan08
Dec07  Nov07  Oct07  Sep07
Aug07  Jul07  Jun07  May07
Apr07  Mar07  Feb07  Jan07
Dec06  Nov06  Oct06  Sep06
Aug06  Jul06  Jun06  May06
Apr06  Mar06  Feb06  Jan06
Dec05  Nov05  Oct05  Sep05
Aug05  Jul05  Jun05  May05
Apr05  Mar05  Feb05  Jan05
Dec04  Nov04  Oct04  Sep04
Aug04  Jul04  Jun04  May04
Apr04  Mar04  Feb04  Jan04
Dec03  Nov03  Oct03  Sep03
Aug03  Jul03  Jun03  May03
Apr03  Mar03  Feb03  Jan03
Dec02  Nov02  Oct02  Sep02
back to main page

diamond geezer 2015 index
diamond geezer 2014 index
diamond geezer 2013 index
diamond geezer 2012 index
diamond geezer 2011 index
diamond geezer 2010 index
diamond geezer 2009 index
diamond geezer 2008 index
diamond geezer 2007 index
diamond geezer 2006 index
diamond geezer 2005 index
diamond geezer 2004 index
diamond geezer 2003 index
diamond geezer 2002 index

my special London features
a-z of london museums
E3 - local history month
greenwich meridian (N)
greenwich meridian (S)
the real eastenders
london's lost rivers
olympic park 2007
great british roads
oranges & lemons
random boroughs
bow road station
high street 2012
river westbourne
trafalgar square
capital numbers
east london line
lea valley walk
olympics 2005
regent's canal
square routes
silver jubilee
unlost rivers
cube routes
metro-land
capital ring
river fleet
piccadilly
bakerloo

ten of my favourite posts
the seven ages of blog
my new Z470xi mobile
five equations of blog
the dome of doom
chemical attraction
quality & risk
london 2102
single life
boredom
april fool

ten sets of lovely photos
my "most interesting" photos
london 2012 olympic zone
harris and the hebrides
betjeman's metro-land
marking the meridian
tracing the river fleet
london's lost rivers
inside the gherkin
seven sisters
iceland

just surfed in?
here's where to find...
diamond geezers
flash mob #1  #2  #3  #4
ben schott's miscellany
london underground
watch with mother
cigarette warnings
digital time delay
wheelie suitcases
war of the worlds
transit of venus
top of the pops
old buckenham
ladybird books
acorn antiques
digital watches
outer hebrides
olympics 2012
school dinners
pet shop boys
west wycombe
bletchley park
george orwell
big breakfast
clapton pond
san francisco
thunderbirds
routemaster
children's tv
east enders
trunk roads
amsterdam
little britain
credit cards
jury service
big brother
jubilee line
number 1s
titan arum
typewriters
doctor who
coronation
comments
blue peter
matchgirls
hurricanes
buzzwords
brookside
monopoly
peter pan
starbucks
feng shui
leap year
manbags
penelope
bbc three
vision on
piccadilly
meridian
concorde
wembley
islington
ID cards
bedtime
freeview
beckton
blogads
eclipses
letraset
arsenal
sitcoms
gherkin
calories
everest
muffins
sudoku
camilla
london
ceefax
robbie
becks
dome
BBC2
paris
lotto
118
itv