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My favorite moments of the Olympics and Paralympics

Some people asked me what my favorite moments of the Olympics and Paralympics have been.

With so many weeks of events that’s a tough question to answer. I loved the spectators who cheered on every athlete no matter what team they supported. I loved the cheery volunteers. Of course, I loved the athletes. The venues were set up perfectly, too.

But I think if I had to pick 3 favorite moments these would be the ones:

Usain Bolt and Yohan Blake fighting it out over the Olympic 100m and 200m. This includes us “storming” the US Fan House to see the 200m final and us just making it inside and to the right TV channel with seconds left to the start. The story will later be told as “An Australian, a German and an American are trying to watch the London 2012 200m final…”.

Oscar Pistorius and Alan Oliveira fighting it out over the Paralympic T44 100m, 200m and 400m. Being in the stadium to see the 200m final, the BIG UPSET, experiencing the stunned and quiet crowd as Alan Oliveira wins this distance unexpectedly, was priceless. I am happy for Oscar Pistorius winning the T44 400m final. I am sure we will see and hear more of both athletes in Rio 2016.

Spectators giving a standing ovation as David Smith, GB Paralympic Team, enters the arena for the Boccia gold medal match. Pattaya Tadtong from Thailand ends up winning the match. Then, after the match is over, the crowd gives a standing ovation to both athletes.

I’ll leave you with a kaleidoscope of images from inside the Olympic Park during the past 6 weeks.

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Paralympics Day 9 and 10: Boccia? Really?

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.

Team Germany Wheelchair Basketball before the game

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.

Team Italy Wheelchair Fencing

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.

Bronze medal game in Wheelchair Table Tennis

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.

David Smith, GB, competing for gold in the Paralympic Boccia. Pattaya Tadtong throws the ball.

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!


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Skyline Wenlock

This is it!

I caught the last missing Wenlock & Mandeville sculpture on camera!

What am I going to do with all my free time next week? No more Olympics. No more Paralympics. No more Wenlock and Mandeville hunting.

The Skyline Wenlock says:

“I have been counting London’s famous buildings and landmarks. How many can you spot?”

Well, how many can you?

Skyline Wenlock


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Paralympics Day 4 – Inside the Olympic Stadium

This was THE day to be in the Olympic Stadium. The day of the BIG UPSET. Last Sunday.

We had some good seats behind and up from the 100m start line.

Track and Field Athletics has been my sports as a teenager, so I loved being inside the Olympic Stadium. By the time we got to our Athletics session, though, we had already spent 11 hours in the Olympic Park and were starting to get tired.

Our focus sometimes got a little sidetracked to the remote-controlled cars that brought back the javelins, for example.

Or to Kate Middleton, who handed out medals at the Victory Ceremony.


There was plenty of great sports and athletes in the stadium that Sunday, but it will most likely be remembered as the night of the BIG UPSET.

Oscar Pistorius, The Blade Runner, from South Africa was expected to win the 200m final (T43/44). After all, he also competed a few weeks earlier in the Olympics. However, he was pretty much unexpectedly beaten by the Brazilian Alan Oliveira.

The stadium was quiet for a moment. A full stadium of 80,000 spectators rendered speechless.

There even was a World Record in this race which somehow ended up forgotten.  Arnu Fourie, Oscar’s team mate, ran a World Record (T44).

It was a night to remember. Plenty of records, World Records, Paralympic Records, European Records, other regional Records.

It was amazing to be part of this!


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Paralympics Day 4 – 5-a-side Football and Wheelchair Basketball

After the Goalball session, we checked what was going on next. Our tickets were for the Goalball session in the morning and then a Day Pass for the rest of the day, which allowed us access into other venues within the Olympic Park as long as seats were available.

5-a side-Football was about to start, so we gave it a go. Similar to Goalball, it is a quiet game. I didn’t mention yesterday hat “Quiet, please” was the catchphrase for Goaball. The audience had to quiet. The ball had bells inside for the player to know where it was. Same thing here with 5-a-side Football. The players were blindfolded and the ball had bells in it. Only the goalkeepers are fully sighted. The goalkeeper is allowed to shout out instructions to the team. Additionally, each team had a guide, who was placed behind the other team’s goal who shouted out instructions. “Quiet, please” for the audience.

The game was, of course, slower than a regular football (soccer) match. It was really about ball control. Tackling became a very different situation.

We saw the Spain vs Iran match and if you think how the heck are they able to score a goal? I can tell you, Spain scored 2. It comes down to the goalkeeper and the guide to really guide the players along. You see the guide behind the goal here.

After the 5-a-side Football, we made our way to the Basketball arena to see if we could get to see a Wheelchair Basketball game. I was lucky! We got there right in time for the start of the Germany vs Canada match.

The Basketball arena is huge. And for once it doesn’t have the bright pink and blue colors. I like these colors really!

But the German coaches made up for the lack of pink in the arena. Last instructions before the game started.

German fans also showed colors.

It was a very high charged game. Until this Wheelchair Basketball match, both teams, Germany and Canada, won all 3 previous matches and were leading their group. Canada did win the match, but it wasn’t always sure that it would go this way. Great match to watch.

Here is Germany scoring 2 points.

Both teams made it into the semi-finals, which are today.

Germany will play the USA at 1pm my time. This should be another great game to watch. I might move my lunch break out. 🙂

May the best team win!


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Paralympics Day 4 – Goalball

Sunday was our BIG DAY at the Paralympics. We spent 14 (!) hours in the Olympic Park. I can’t tell you how exhausted I was afterwards. At some point, I couldn’t focus anymore on any sports going on right in front of me. But it was a good exhaustion. 🙂

We arrived at the Olympic Park early in the morning. It rained.

This volunteer explained to us that it is, in fact, NOT rain, but LIQUID SUNSHINE. Who can argue with that? And to be true, just having him shout this out, made us all feel like there was sunshine!

Then we had our obligatory pic taken in front of the entrance.

Our first session of the day was Goalball.

Well, if you have never heard of Goalball before this Paralympics, join the club. But trust me when I tell you watching Goalball matches is fun. Remember that for RIO 2016!

The rules are easy. There is a ball, there is a goal. Get the ball in the goal. AHA!

This is a sports for the visually impaired. In order to have an equal playing field, all players wear blindfolds.

Here is what the field looks like.

This was the first match of the day: Spain vs Great Britain. There are 3 players in each team. They need to get the ball from their half of the field into the goal. The ball needs to be rolled. It is not allowed to bounce too high. We learned that there are penalties for that. The defending team will then throws themselves on the floor in order to block the ball from getting into the goal.

The British team won this match. What Spain was lacking in goals though, they made up in creativity. They were very good at pirouetting before they threw the ball or throwing the ball through their legs.

We saw three matches. We noticed that being tall is not necessarily helpful in this game. You may think so (we did…) as you can block out more area while you throw yourselves to the ground, but tall players lack the speed in getting up and throwing the ball back before the other team reforms after their throw.

The Japanese team was pretty fast. Their players would turn around a ball so fast, you couldn’t even follow their throw sometimes. They didn’t manage to get a goal though during the game that we watched.

If you get a chance, go watch the finals or semi-finals. It is a fun sports to watch!


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Taking a break…

After 5 days of non-stop action at the Paralympics and a day out to search for Wenlocks and Mandevilles, I need a break.

Taking a break at Tower Bridge

I took over 450 photos just in the last 2 days.

Taking photos in the Olympic Park

Sunday at the Olympic Park was full of action. We got to see so many different sports: Goalball, 5-a-side Football, Wheelchair Basketball, Tennis and hours of excitement in the Olympic Stadium. So watch out for my next post on this.

And, yes, my break will include a run today. 🙂

Happy Tuesday!