Another amazing photo from the Paralympics: China’s He Junquan bites on a towel to aid his start in the men’s 50m Backstroke S5 race at the Aquatics Centre in the Olympic Park. The S5 category is for swimmers with major limb loss of two limbs or with full use of their arms and hands but no trunk or leg muscles; swimmers with moderate coordination problems.
The Paralympians with their superhuman achievements are definitely inspiring a generation. Forget LOGOC, forget the controversial and politically entwined legacy, just take a look at the athletes! Watching these people, no matter how disabled they seem, shine and beam from ear to ear accepting their medals is inspiring!
Ever single person I’ve talked to about the Paralympics has told me that watching the games has made them feel that they can do anything, especially if these athletes can achieve what they can, and overcome their day to day challenges just to be competing at London 2012.
The superhuman Paralympic spirit is spreading and infecting more people with each Paralympic medal, making each spectator believe in the "spirit in motion".
Yesterday Joe,Kaspian, and I were set an SMJ challenge, by Charlie and Fran, to find the country which was best represented in London. The task was to visit temporary houses or embassies of as many countries as we could by 5pm, and post a blog of 350 words, including 3 photos and 1 video. And a mysterious prize would be awarded to us on the completion of our mission.
So, the 3 of us headed off along with a fellow Headstarter, to the house of Switzerland. Were were immediately presented with very open atmosphere, and felt really welcome as we were greeted with free sweets while we waited to meet someone we could interview. We quickly learnt that the Swiss wanted to welcome the rest of London, by setting up the first open house of its kind, and presenting Swiss culture with a graphic art exhibition, Swiss gaming facilities, an outdoor music stage, and a nightclub open till 2 am.
Next we headed off to the French house, and were immediately disappointed to find we had to pay just to get in! After being shoved through airport style chaotic security, an unwelcoming feeling began to settle in as we felt isolated by the French language and attitude. The French house felt more of a fans area, with a fancy interactive French team wall of support, and a large screen. But it lacked any sort of culture or French experience for any visitors, which was a huge shame. Definitely the worst experience of the whole day.
Warning, there may be a bit of a biased view coming up, as next we headed of the South African House at the South Bank Centre. I was impressed by the display of artwork within the house from artists all around South Africa, however the lack of people within the house was a bit of a let down. It was the first house we had been to where someone said hello to me first, and a family were seen wandering around. I think what was most important about the South African house was the people, just being around the other South Africans made me feel home sick.
I managed to get an interview, which is below, but just another bit of a warning half way through, my South African accent does make a small appearance!
Our next stop was the Brazil house, which we had very high expectations for, especially considering they are the hosts for the next Olympics. We were not disappointed by Casa Brazil. They was a brilliant exhibition full of culture, and history, and future feel for the 2016 Olympics was clear.
Overall the atmosphere at Casa Brazil presented a fair representation of the Brazilian nation. However there was no particular fan area, with a big screen to watch the sporting action, which was a bit strange.
On our way to Casa Brazil we noticed the Qatar House, a very unexpected find. And what a surprise that was! Definitely the most relaxed and luxurious experience of the day, without a doubt. Welcomed in by a plush red carpet, and directed to the sports bar we indulged in free fruit smoothies, delicious, sweet and sticky snacks, as well as free wii bowling. We were given a wonderful private tour of the house, which cost millions, and were introduced to the Qatar way of life, with its surprising sporting history and innovative future developments.
The Irish house was our final stop, and I don’t think they were too worried about challenging any stereotypes, after all we did find them in a pub!
I think the challenge taught me that each nation will also find a unique and surprising way in which to represent themselves. But the way you do represent yourself should always be accessible to the rest of the world. So in that sense the French were the worst represented, and the Swiss were the best represented.
Mission Complete! Wondering what the prize was?
Tickets to Beach Volleyball on Saturday! I’m so excited!