Inspired by Paralympics

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I knew what to expect.

I knew the stadia were fantastic, the crowds some of the loudest on record, the volunteers the best of humanity and the athletes superhuman.

After five days down at the Paralympic Games in London last week, I realised I knew nothing.

The games makers, in what quickly became instantly recognisable purple polo shirts had invented songs for just about everything, be it getting you through security or directing you to the Central Line, meaning you undertook even the most mundane part of your day with a smile on your face.

And when you got to the main event, that euphoria carried on into the arenas with what in my case, were truly inspirational performances from people who deal with day-to-day hardships I cannot even begin to comprehend.

There were magical moments everywhere you looked.

The blind Brazilian runner, Daniel Silva, danced all over the podium with his guide runner in pure joy after winning silver in the 200m T11, before kneeling at the feet of former Olympic gold medalist Tessa Sanderson and kissing her hand to receive his medal.

That same night, last Tuesday, I was lucky enough to witness one of David Weir’s four gold medals, the 1500m, as the wheelchair king judged a tactical race to perfection to win and produce the loudest roar I have ever heard live in a stadium. The hairs on the back of my neck stood firmly to attention.

I had naïvely thought the roar that greeted Ellie Simmonds’ gold in 200m individual medley at the Aquatics Stadium the night previous couldn’t be beaten. How wrong I was.

Prime Minister David Cameron didn’t get the same reaction, roundly booed as he handed Simmonds her gold later that night.

My Olympic experience had begun last Sunday morning with Team GB in Goalball action, a sport unusual in that it has no able-bodied equivalent as teams of three wearing blackout masks throw a ball at each other in a bid to score goals.

The oddest thing with that, and the blind five-a-side football. is that amongst all the excitement crowds have to remain deadly silent so competitors could hear the bell in the respective balls.

The goalball girls won their first match of the tournament that day, 3-1 over Brazil, and celebrated like they’d won a gold medal on what was probably the biggest day of their lives.

It felt like a special, emotional, moment, even it was only a little past 10am on what is supposedly the day of rest.

Other nods must go to wheelchair tennis, table tennis and a personal favourite of mine, the all-action wheelchair basketball.

I also took in GB’s women’s sitting volleyball in their final game at the Excel Centre on Thursday, hoping to see Lancaster’s Vicky Widdup.

Sadly she wasn’t involved, but Martine Wright, who lost both her legs in the 7/7 bombings, was.

The mighty roar she received as she slid on her backside from the bench onto the court summed up why these games and the Olympics before them captured the heart and minds of our nation.

Well done Britain. Didn’t we do well?

Adam Lord