That’s what they call it on the official Paralympic schedule “Day -2” as in “minus two” or two days to go. And it has that feeling of “almost ready and just you wait!” It’s very exciting.
I’m sitting at the press center in the Olympic Park now, and here’s what I can say for sure: the Park is HUGE. You get off at the closest train or subway stop, walk about 10 minutes to the entry – and then you see signs like “Velodrome, 30 minutes walking” or “Basketball Center, 25 minutes walking.” And walking is what you do!
As I started my touring, I walked first around the Olympic Stadium, where I could hear loud rehearsals going on inside. I’ll be touring inside it later today, so I kept walking to the “Orbit,” a 377- foot tall twisting steel tower that’s a kind of Krazy Kat version of the Eiffel Tower. Like the tower in Paris, visitors travel up to have panoramic views over the city. But instead of being a refined silver-grey and classically symmetrical, the Orbit looks bulgy and loopy and is mostly colored a really odd dried-blood red. It’s young and punky looking, though, not at all stuffy Brit. Maybe I like it more than I thought…
We then went on a press-only tour of five of the venues, to show us where we’d be filming:
• the Stadium, which is being worked over for the Paralympics Opening Ceremonies, all different from the Olympics opener (no spoilers here!);
• the Aquatics Center, which is called “The Pringle” because it has sort of a potato chip shape;
• the Basketball Arena, where wheelchair basketball’s early games are played before the later games move to another arena, and where all the wheelchair rugby games happen. The South African team was in practice, shooting, racing, setting picks;
• the Velodrome for cycling, all shiny new, sharply tilted tracks, as impressive as it looks in the video that Allison Jonesearlier with MEDAL QUEST
• and finally, the Riverbank Arena, where soccer (oh pardon me, “football”) will be played. It’s a beautiful field, all done up in the bold pinks and reds and teales of the London Games.
Tomorrow: visiting the Royal Artillery Barracks (archery, shooting) and the Copper Box (goalball)! And final MQ prep!
Judith Vecchione, Executive Producer