My last 2 active Paralympic sports watching days were filled with more amazing performances. Surprisingly, the athletes I had the most respect for were the Boccia players. “Boccia? Really?”, you may say, but hear me out.
But first the other events keeping to some sort of chronological order.
Friday, I was able to watch the German team once more in the Wheelchair Basketball. They were not playing for a medal anymore but for a place in the game for 5th and 6th place. That didn’t make the game any tamer. I really got to love Wheelchair Basketball as my favorite Paralympic team sports. It is as fast paced as Basketball with as much drama – if not more.
Saturday, I made my way to the ExCel. I had session tickets for the Wheelchair Fencing and a day pass for the remainder of the day.
I have to say that Wheelchair Fencing didn’t get me too excited. I was lucky enough though sitting in front of a 10-year old fencing expert who explained the rules to me. I was also lucky about having a great view of the good-looking Italian team.
After the Wheelchair fencing, I headed over to the Table Tennis. Two games went on simultaneously, one for the bronze medal and one for gold.
It was quite fun, at least I knew the rules.
Both games finished more or less at the same time and now it was time to check out the Boccia. To be honest, I was not excited about Boccia and considered skipping (I was at the verge of Olympic/Paralympic burn-out). But then I was here anyway, so why skip?
Of course, such is life, that this ended up being the most inspiring game to watch.
You need to know that only athletes with a physical impairment that affects controlled movement in all four limbs are eligible to compete in Boccia at the Paralympics (see London 2012 website). There are 4 different classifications and I saw the gold medal game of the BC1 classification (athletes with cerebral palsy who can either kick or throw the ball). David Smith from the GB Paralympics Team was playing for gold.
What is so amazing here is that Boccia is about controlling the throw of the Boccia ball so it lands as close to the jack (target ball) as possible. This is all about controlling movements. Seeing players play this game so precisely who suffer from an impairment that affects controlled movement makes you speechless.
Again, I was lucky to be sitting next to a lady from Canada whose daughter-in-law was one of the officials and who had a family member playing BC2 Boccia. She explained the rules and the difficulties in great detail.
Pattaya Tadtong from Thailand took the gold medal in this game. The difficulty in this game is not only to control movements, but also emotions. I did see a world-class match here and the athletes deserve all our respect!
I have one big wish as a legacy from these great Paralympics: to make watching Paralympic sports more accessible to us – the ones like me who have never watched a Paralympic game in her life. I believe with more media coverage there will be more interest in Paralympic sports. But to have an interest in Paralympic sports, you need to know it’s happening.
Dear global media, please keep covering Paralympic sports, so we can all continue to participate and inspire more young (and old) people!