1) Cinderella, you shall go to the ball.
If you were gutted not to receive any Olympic tickets, or if you only snaffled some sub-average scraps, never fear. There's a whole new opportunity to watch world class athletes compete in the same iconic venues across London, and that's the Paralympics. They kick off a year from now, on Wednesday 29th August 2012, and run until Sunday 9th September. No doubt the media today will be full of celebratory stories and events to mark this important milestone (just like they were for the Olympics), unless they're not. But if you still want to get inside the Olympic Stadium, or watch swimming in the Aquatic Centre, or experience a medal ceremony, here's your chance.
2) This time you can get inside the architecture.
In ten years time, it won't matter whether you saw the Olympics or Paralympics, you'll still be able to say you were there. So be there. There are 18 athletics sessions inside the Olympic Stadium - they definitely won't all sell out. There are 20 sessions inside the Aquatic Centre - they won't either. There are even eight sessions inside the iconic Velodrome - you've got to have a good chance to get in there this time. Yes, just as with the Olympics there'll be a ballot for any oversubscribed sessions, but can you really see that applying to all (or any) of the above?
3) These tickets are cheap.
Organisers know that Paralympic grandstands will to be hard to fill, so have priced the tickets accordingly. Half of the available tickets will cost £10 or less (£5 if you're a senior citizen or a child). £10 can earn you a full day watching the shooting in Woolwich, for example, or a morning's rowing at Eton, or any of the equestrian events in Greenwich Park. Most countries who stage the Paralympics give away every ticket for free, so desperate are they to fill seats, so all credit to London 2012 for respecting the talents of the athletes and aiming a little higher.
4) Men's 100m final? Sure!
If the gold riband event of the Games is the men's 100m final, the session everybody wants tickets for, then the Paralympics offers a dead cert opportunity to attend. There isn't just one men's 100m final, there are fifteen, each related to a different kind of disability. Three for blind athletes (T11-T13), five for those with cerebral palsy (T34-T38), three for amputees (T42, T44, T46) and four for those with spinal problems (T51-T54). Pick any evening from 1st September to 8th September and you can spend 3+ hours in the Olympic Stadium watching at least one men's 100m final, probably a women's 100m final, plus a whole host of other athletic spectacles. And all that for only £20, bargain!
6) For a proper bargain, buy a Day Pass.
Why not make a day of it at the Paralympics and see lots of everything? The organisers have given up on attracting paying customers to the preliminary rounds of the more obscure sports, so have lumped lots of them together under the banner of a Day Pass. You won't get to see the top notch events or finals, but will be able to pop in and out of all the other heats and matches as you please. A mere £10 earns you the right to watch thirteen and a half hours of sport at ExCel (eg on 3rd September: Boccia, Table Tennis, Volleyball, Wheelchair Fencing and Powerlifting). Or that same £10 gives you access to the Olympic Park for an entire day (eg on 5th September: Football preliminaries, Goalball quarter-finals, Wheelchair Tennis finals and Wheelchair Rugby preliminaries). Arrive at 9am and you can stay until after 10pm. Go on, why wouldn't you?
7) If you want a ticket for a ceremony, aim higher.
One thing we learnt after the Olympic ticket-buying fiasco is that potential purchasers had a much bigger chance of getting a ticket the more they were willing to pay. That won't be an issue for most Paralympic events, but it probably will be for the Opening and Closing Ceremonies because they're 'special'. Tickets for both events start at £20.12, but if you really want to go it's probably a mistake to limit yourself to those. Set your price range from £50 downwards, if you can afford it, and this ought to boost your chances of being there rather than missing out. It'd almost certainly be overdoing it to spend £100 or more to watch a few hours of flag waving and participatory art, but there again, you'll never get such an opportunity again.
8) Some Paralympic events are free.
The ranking rounds of the archery, free. Road cycling at Brands Hatch, free. The marathon (sigh, London central not London east), free. Even the sailing in Weymouth is going to be wholly free, with no attempt to corral premium spectators into a park near the town centre and charge them to sit in a grandstand on a clifftop.
9) Take a risk on an unfamiliar sport.
You probably don't know what Boccia is (a form of bowls, now you ask), nor Goalball (think handball for the blind, with bells inside the ball). Why let that stop you attending? Ditto wheelchair basketball, wheelchair fencing, wheelchair rugby and wheelchair tennis. Wouldn't it be more interesting to go and watch those, as a special one-off, rather than your usual slobby weekend of shopping, coffee-drinking and DVD-watching?
10) Plan ahead, and make next September more interesting.
Paralympic tickets go on sale on 9th September 2011. The full 33-page ticket schedule is here, the ticketing website is here and an interactive scheduling tool is here. You've got the length of a Paralympics to work out what to see.