Yesterday at the Paralympics

What a fantastic day at the Olympic Park. I originally got tickets to the Paralympic track and field because the Husband had missed out on the chance to go to the Olympics. Then the Younger Son said he wanted to go too. It turned out to be just as much fun as before. The weather was perfect, the park was jammed, and the competition was fierce.

The Husband even enjoyed the track and field. Track is not his thing. I once took him to watch a meet at the Coliseum in Los Angeles, and he nearly tore his hair out with boredom. And that was a U.S. national meet, where Carl Lewis was running. But last night we walked into the stadium and saw that our seats were… whoa. Everybody stood gaping, going, “That’s the flame. There. And it’s hot.”

(Photo: the Son’s Girlfriend, ducking from the heat of the Olympic flame.)

We were also close to the track, and the finish line. Really close. It gave me a feeling called “tantalizing.” As in, I got a crazy urge to leap the barrier and run a lap, yelling, “Limpics! Limpics!” But reason prevailed. I mean, the women’s shot put was going on. And no runner wants a shot putter getting after her.

The Husband had a couple of favorite events: the aforementioned shot put, which he found hypnotic (that heavy shot! The rhythm of the throw! He couldn’t look away!) and the men’s 100m T-46 (all the events are divided into categories depending on competitors’ disabilities). Halfway through the 100, World Champion Yohansson Nascimento’s hamstring went, badly, and he fell to the track in pain. The rest of the field sprinted through the line as Nascimento climbed agonizingly to his feet — and started hobbling toward the finish. Hell, yeah. He intended to cross the line even if he had to crawl. Hell, yeah. Three weeks ago at the Olympics I saw a couple of races where competitors had falls or muscle pulls, and they either walked off the track or sat on it crying, before leaving the stadium without a word. And I know that getting knocked out on the last lap of the Olympics — when you can taste a gold medal — is devastating. But part of me kept thinking: It’s the Olympics. Do you know how many hundreds of thousands of people have dreamed of being where you are? Finish the race.

Nascimento finished the race. And damn, everybody cheered. All 80,000 people in the stadium.

The men’s 100m T-44 final was wicked too. When Britain’s Jonnie Peacock took the gold, the stadium erupted. The USA’s Richard Browne was so excited at getting the silver medal that he practically bounded over the roof. The race was so intense that Oscar Pistorius finished fourth.

And one of my favorite events was the men’s 800m T-54, for wheelchair racers. Britain’s David Weir had already won the 5000 and 1500, and was going for triple gold. As for what the atmosphere in the stadium was like: People have started calling him the Weir Wolf. Fans in the crowd had on wolf masks, and when he was announced on the starting line the stadium P.A. system played “Werewolves of London.” That’s what the atmosphere was like.

The race was hard, quick, and rough. There was a crash that makes NASCAR look tame. But Weir stayed out of traffic, stayed close to the front of the pack, and at 500 meters put the pedal down. When they hit the final turn he was in second place and one lane wide. He dug in, and inched ahead, and refused to let anybody get past him. He powered through the line to win gold in 1:37. And the place went bonkers. I couldn’t see for all the shouting people and the Union Jacks.

It was quite a party.

8 responses to “Yesterday at the Paralympics

  1. Sounds amazing. We realised long ago our timing with regards to heading to NZ was perhaps not the best…

  2. okay, that made me all verklempt again.

  3. I was just looking at photos from the Paralympics and found myself astounded, simply because I hadn’t thought about: fencing with sabre while blind; runners with guides; seated volleyball; wheelchair tennis, etc. My mind, it is blown.

  4. I saw some of that on tv and would love to have been there. We’ve hung out at Trafalgar Square and that has been good fun–nothing like hundreds of people cheering at a screen.

  5. Heard a news story this weekend about how Americans are truly missing out not having our media cover the Paralympics. Thanks for sharing the fun and inspiration of the games, Meg.

  6. Pingback: 2012: the blog year in review | lying for a living

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