After a good night's sleep it was right to it with a morning briefing at the hotel - a run through of the handbook and some scene setting for the week ahead. This included a security and ops briefing, key to the smooth running of the Programme.
A hop onto the bus and the group was on their way to the wheelchair rugby where GB were in action against Australia. Our Paralympic Inspiration (PiP) wheelchair rugby athletes Stuart and Ollie were particularly interested to experience the competition atmosphere. The pool match was close fought but the final score went the way of Australia.
After the wheelchair rugby the group moved across to the wheelchair tennis venue where we paused for thought in the Paralympic Family Lounge for the media module. Video blogs were filmed and scenarios were worked through in groups which provided some role play opportunities and some consideration for the way in which different situations could be dealt with. Groups were encouraged to think beyond being an athlete and consider the types of questions a journalist may ask, key messages for specific sports, as well as representatives from governing bodies – all eventualities were covered off! Finally the group was briefed on the Twitter competition, to gain as many followers in the next few days as possible; it wasn’t long before the group were tweeting courtside.
Great Britain are guaranteed Gold and Silver in the men’s singles wheelchair tennis event. Before we arrived Gordon Reid defeated world No 1 Stéphane Houdet, of France, in the first of the semi-finals. Alfie Hewett was up against Belgium athlete Joachim Gérard in the second and took the match in straight sets. The Paralympic Inspiration group watched on and were there to support Alfie, who was only 14 when he took part in the PiP Programme at London 2012. This was particularly inspirational for the group to be able to see what four years of hard work and dedication can bring. On the way out of the tennis the group got the chance to see the mix zone, a large compound with bright stage lights and media pens where journalists have access to players as they leave the field of play.
After the tennis it was an early return back to the hotel for a re-group and dinner – and some well-earnt rest following the long flight and the group’s first experience of the Olympic Park. Tomorrow sees the Programme split into competition specific groups and an opportunity to develop their understanding of their own competition environment.
Military athletes were also in action today – Dave Henson finished fifth in the T42 100m Heats, unfortunately not making it through to the Final. He will visit British House today to speak to media now that his competition has finished. Nick Beighton finished second in his KL2 Para-canoe Heat qualifying directly for the Final taking place today. Jo Butterfield finished in fifth place in the F52 Discus after winning Gold and claiming a World Record in the Club Throw on Sunday. Last but by no means least, Mikey Hall made it to the last eight in the men’s individual compound event. Hall, ranked fourth in the world coming into Rio, was beaten 143-136 by Italy’s Alberto Simonelli in their last eight encounter. The 41-year old is still new to the sport, having won individual bronze and team gold at the 2014 Invictus Games in London. He said:
”Simonelli is a great competitor but those bad shots I chucked in were when the wind picked up and they just didn't come off.
"I'll come back bigger and stronger. I’ll take the experience from this Games and I've enjoyed everything about it."
Sunday 11 September 2016Day four offered the Paralympic Inspiration Programme (PiP) group
Monday 12 September 2016Day five arrived and with it another opportunity for the
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