I spent yesterday at the Olympic Park. First up, was Goal Ball:
Played by the visually impaired (who wear blackout masks to make everyone equally and completely blind), each team of three members tries to score a goal by throwing the ball down the court. It’s almost like bowling, as the ball rolls along the floor. The ball has two bells inside it, so the players can hear it coming, and they stretch their bodies along the ground to block it. Oh, and because they need to be able to hear the ball, the spectators have to sit in complete silence during the game. (Pic heavy).
It was great to see a game that I’d never heard of before, a real Paralympic event. And though I have to admit that it’s not necessarily the most exciting game to watch – there’s a throw and a block, a throw and a block – it did get more dramatic when there was a men’s game, and we went from one or two goals a game, to about eight or nine. And, even more importantly, I managed to do some Paralympic Knitting:
After Goal Ball, we had a walk around the Park and found a spot on the grass by one of the giant screens:
From there, we watched the live coverage as Brit swimmer Ellie Simmonds won gold in the 400m freestyle in the Aquatic Centre behind us. Then it was time to head over to the stadium itself for some athletics:
The place was packed and the atmosphere was incredible. Every other athlete seemed to break a World Record, including this chap:
That’s Oscar Pistorius, over in lane 8, and he broke the World Record even though it was only a heat. Although he wasn’t the fastest one there – that award goes to the World’s Fastest Paralympian, Ireland’s Jason Smythe, who we saw win gold in the 100m T13. As I said on Twitter, my own two-legged jogging efforts look ever more tragic.
Meanwhile, at the men’s triple jump F46, directly in front of where we were sitting, the Chinese athlete also broke the World Record. By miles. Jumping 15.20 m, way past the little board they’d set up. This is him in action on a later jump:
So, whilst I still maintain that I Do Not Do Sport, I admit I am a total convert to the Olympics and Paralympics. Superhumans indeed.