Completed: Friday 14th and Saturday 15th July 2017
Okay, so thinking about it I have been to more live sports events than I first thought:
- Wimbledon tennis many times after school growing up (and a few times queuing up for day tickets VERY early)
- Rugby match at Twickenham – Army vs. Navy, and another one but I can’t remember who…
- Football match – Chelsea vs. Fulham (I was with a Chelsea season ticket holder, and definitely cheered for the wrong team many times)
- Gymnastics at the O2 for the 2012 Olympics
- London Marathon (watching and running!)
- Year 3 hockey match I had to referee whilst working at a school in my gap year…
That may not actually be very much, but it sounds a lot to me. Anyway, I wanted to expand my horizons and see something I hadn’t seen before. Cheering on a team is a lot of fun and in a good match it gets very exciting.
I saw some tickets advertised for the World ParaAthletics Championships being held in London and thought that would be a great event to go to. So fun in fact that I got tickets for two nights so I could see loads of events! It was held at the Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park where the 2012 games were held, and it’s a great venue. The 3.5 hour sessions sound a long time but actually it went really quickly.
There were track and field events at the same time so plenty to watch, in fact often you didn’t know where to look as you’d miss something else happening. Athletics is also quite a chilled sport to watch with spectators coming and going quite a lot. There was plenty of noise made for any team GB competitor and the crowds really got behind them. There was also a lot of support for those in track events who were coming last – as they came past there would be an eruption of cheering to encourage them on. What a great atmosphere! At the start of each event the LEXI guide on the screen explained the category – T are track events and F are field events – followed by a number indicating what impairments it included which was really helpful in understanding the athletes abilities. The sessions I’d got tickets for included some of the 2012 and 2016 GB Paralympic stars and I was really looking forward to seeing them competing in London on home soil.
The Friday evening I was with two friends sat five rows from the front of the track, on the bend where the javelin and shot put took place, opposite side to the track finish line. It was a brilliant view and you really felt a part of what was going on with athletes waving as they came past, even though it was a bit tricky to see the race finishes but we managed to watch them on the large screens. It was the first of ten days of competition and the stands weren’t quite as full as expected but there was a lot of excitement building through the evening. A fun (but turns out very helpful) piece of equipment were the remote control mini vans which carried the field event equipment back from where it had been thrown to the athletes. There were definitely a few grown-ups living their childhood dream driving them around! Whizbee the competition mascot was also out taking photos with the spectators – naturally it wasn’t an opportunity I could pass up! Most of the field events started first as they tend to take a long time to complete – each category varies but there can be lots of rounds with athletes having three throws each per round. There were quite a few GB competitors and our first win of the championships came from Zachary Shaw in his T12 heat, which set the standard for the team to follow.
There were quite a few heats for 100m races, but the big highlight for the Brits came from the women’s 100m T34 final with Hannah Cockcroft competing. Being so close to the front we saw her arrive in the arena and wave at the crowds before getting ready to start. She was joined by another talented GB star Kare Adenegan who is just 16 years old. The race was brilliant and Hannah went on to win with a new world record, and Kare coming in silver. Amazing!
The Saturday evening I went with a group of friends and we were split across two blocks, but both in the upper level on the back straight which gave us a fantastic view of the whole arena with the long jump right in front of us. Lots of the races were finals and we were treated to many a lap of honour by winners which was lovely to be a part of and be able to cheer for them in their victory.The stands were more full than the previous evening and the crowd was ready to get going – they weren’t disappointed with no less than four GB gold medals to go wild for! The women’s javelin F46 was really a two horse race betwen GB’s Hollie Arnold and New Zealand’s Holly Robinson, both throwing over 10m further than the other athletes. Our Hollie lead from the start and set a new world record (surpassing her own previous record) of 43.02m. There was much rejoicing when she was announced as the winner – we had been watching the battle unfold for half an hour and she had finally done it.
This was just as Richard Whitehead ran in the 200m T42 which he won with a championship record (see photo from his lap of honour) and David Henson (2016 Paralympian bronze medalist and Invictus Games competitor) won bronze. The two GB wins so close together pumped up the crowd and we were now just picking people to cheer for when no Brits were in a race. The T33 100m race was the next race and had four athletes participating, three of whom were Team GB. It was won by the guy from Kuwait with Toby Gold coming in silver and Andrew Small bronze. It wasn’t long before Sophie Hahn won gold in the T38 200m with a world record, and Kadeena Cox coming in bronze with a PB. The golds were finished off with Samantha Kinghorn smashing it in the T53 200m race, setting a world record as well. Go Brits!
It was so inspirational seeing all the athletes who have overcome adversity, put their mind to something and worked so hard to reach where they are. I loved going and being part of it, something I would certainly love to do again.
For more on the championships and your last chance to grab some tickets for the next few days, look here.
To see the full list of 30 things I’m doing, you can see the original post here.