The Paralympic Inspiration Programme (PiP) has arrived in Rio! Late Tuesday night the first group arrived to a friendly welcome and a smooth transition through the airport and to our hotel.
After a good night's sleep the first task was the collection of accreditation, a well-planned and easy process which made everything official. The group spans 13 Paralympic sports and the first wave includes athletes from football, shooting, skiing, snowboarding, table tennis, tennis, and triathlon.
After a good breakfast it was into a brief for the day ahead. The morning saw groups split off to produce and film their own video blogs and media planning scenarios before preparing to leave for British House.
Met by familiar faces, everyone looking very smart in their respective kit, the group received a lovely welcome. The place was buzzing with journalists, VIPs, and supporters ahead of the Opening Ceremony. Penny Mordaunt, Minister for Disabled People Health & Work met the group and we found time for a team photo with the fabulous back-drop of the Rio landscape.
The final formality before leaving for the opening ceremony was a welcome speech by the President of the British Paralympic Association (BPA) Tim Reddish where we joined him in congratulating those involved in preparing and supporting British House. The PiP athletes even got their own special mention!
Our transport awaited us and just over an hour down the road we arrived at the Maracana stadium, for the opening ceremony. As we passed Christ the Redeemer high on the mountain top it dawned on some of the athletes what a fantastic opportunity the programme provides. Our athlete ambassadors Ben Quilter and Rik Waddon both admitted this will be their first Opening Ceremony, as athletes they didn't get to experience one!
PiP athlete Menna Fitzpatrick said following the ceremony, "What an amazing experience, from the moment we sat down in the stadium the atmosphere was electric. It's been a great first day and we've been learning lots as we've gone. Witnessing the ceremony is a moment that will stay with me for the rest of my life"
Former serviceman Mikey Hall, who is competing at his first Paralympic Games in Archery, was part of the athlete’s parade, he was a part of the last PiP programme in Sochi.
Tomorrow the group will visit the Paralympic Park for the first time where they will get to visit the velodrome to watch and support Sarah Storey amongst other cyclists on the track.
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