Day 6 of Competition - London 2012

4 September 2012 - MEDAL QUEST was at two very different competitions today. First was Track and Field, which is actually called “Athletics” here at the Paralympic Games.

It seems to me they’re all athletics, but maybe I’m being too literal.

Track and Field is played at the Olympic Stadium, and we were there yesterday - I blogged about the controversial remarks made by Oscar Pistorius after the 200m sprint. Also in that race Blake Leeper ran hard and took bronze, and we’ll be putting up another video about Blake today.

I didn’t get a chance to write this yesterday, but the MEDAL QUEST team also wanted to cheer Tatyana McFadden, who won gold convincingly in the women’s 400m (T54) race, ahead by well over 2 seconds. Tatyana competes at almost every length: 100, 400, 800, and 1500 m, and the marathon.

And today, another MEDAL QUEST athlete also headed for the podium: Lex Gillette, taking silver in his first Paralympic Games in the long jump (T11) with a 6.4 meter jump. Lex is always so generous about crediting his guide, Wesley Williams, so here are pictures of them both, competing together at the Games.

The other sport I went to today was Boccia, not well known in the US, but big here in Europe. Across France and Italy and other countries, you see people playing the game informally in little pocket parks and seriously in leagues.

In the Paralympics, it’s a sport for athletes with disabilities like cerebral palsy that affect locomotor skills. I watched a “pairs” match between two athletes from Greece (ranked number 1) and two from Portugal (number 2). These were BC3 athletes, meaning they could not kick or throw the ball far enough and instead nudged the ball down a ramp and into scoring position. They also had assistants on court to set up the ramps – but the assistants face the athletes, not the field of play, so the skill and accuracy of each “throw” depends entirely on the athlete.

It’s a game of such fine control. I was very glad I’d brought my binoculars, to watch the care and concentration that goes into the game. The audience, which I’d guess was 600 or more, was watching as intently, oohing and cheering as points were won and lost.

I keep thinking about how much you see here at the Games that’s new and eye-opening. The slogan for these Games, written all over the city, is “Inspire a Generation.” As the British say: Yes, indeed.

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