7 September 2012 - It’s coming down to the final stretch here in the Games – just one more full day of competition on Saturday, then final events and the Closing Ceremonies on Sunday.
London has been so welcoming to the Paralympians, with people smiling and wearing very funny hats, extra subway trains and special lanes marked on the highways for Paralympic transport. In fact, the only negative comment I’ve heard was from a cabbie who said sourly, stuck in traffic and looking over at the empty Olympic lane, “It’s like a party next door and you can hear all the music and everything, but you’re not invited.” Cabbies are tough the world over.
And I admit to feeling a little sour myself tonight at the end of the bronze medal match in women’s basketball. After failing to make the gold medal match by just one point in yesterday’s semi-final against Australia, our MEDAL QUEST friends just couldn’t stop the Netherlands today. They fell behind in the first quarter and never regainied their momentum. Wheelchair basketball has a lot of strong teams and players around the world these days: the Dutch had two phenomenal scorers, Inge Huitzing and Mariska Beijer, and the US never found a way to stop them.
The building they competed it was a new one for me: the Millennium Dome, as it was first called, now the O2 Center. It’s one of the sports venues outside the Olympic Park, sort of a big tent held up by exterior cranes, with lots of shops, very lively on a pretty September Friday night.
But Team USA’s Bradley Snyder won his second gold in these Games. MEDAL QUEST interviewed Snyder for an upcoming video, and he told us this is an important week for him: exactly a year ago, on Sept. 7, 2011, Navy Lt. Snyder was blinded when he stepped on an IED in Afghanistan. Winning his second gold medal of the Paralympics today, he said, was “an in-the-clouds experience.”
And took her third gold of these games in the 1500 m (T54) wheelchair races. What a powerhouse she is! She races again tomorrow and then competes in Sunday’s Marathon, a loop around London’s iconic buildings. We’ll be cheering!
Judith Vecchione, for MEDAL QUEST