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April 2013

London 2012 Paralympics
29th April 2013

From daunted to dumbstruck,  over-anxious to overwhelmed, exhilarated to exhausted, the Paralympics took me, in the space of just ten days, on an incredible journey.

I’d been approached by the Times several months before; they wanted to add extra value to their coverage  by  enrolling a sports journalist who also happened to be disabled. I was to get around the Games in my powerchair not just reporting on what happened  but also giving a personal insight  into the challenges faced by both by disabled competitors and disabled spectators at such a massive event.

I was worried I wouldn’t have the energy to do the job justice. I had , after all, taken medical retirement from the BBC  precisely because big events like Rugby World Cups and Lions tours had  taken me way beyond an acceptable level of fatigue. I’d never written for the newspapers on a daily basis and I feared that I would be knocked sideways by the stress of meeting deadlines and getting about between venues.

Initial impressions were alarming. I was unprepared either for the size of the venues or the crowds. On the first trip to the Olympic Park - to collect my accreditation on the day of the Opening Ceremony - I experienced real panic. How could I possibly find my way round such an enormous area and be in the right place at the right time to meet my deadlines?  

My fears were all but groundless; the transport system worked like clockwork, the buses always found room for my powerchair, the venues were fully adapted for disabled journalists and the volunteer Games Makers were a constant force for joy.

This was a feel-good Games to the power of ten and, although my energy levels did end depleted I wouldn’t have missed it for the world.