The Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park was again thronged with thousands of people as the legacy of the London 2012 Games continues.
Exactly two years ago to the day, ParalympicsGB were winning their first medals of what was a highly successful Paralympic Games. National Paralympic Day was another chance to watch and take part in some of the disability sports that have grown hugely in popularity since then with taster and try out sessions running outside of the venues for those that wanted to have a go.
Meanwhile, competitors from Great Britain took on those from Europe in swimming, wheelchair basketball, goalball and boccia over what was a pretty friendly competition. Nevertheless, the sport was taken very seriously, not least in the Copper Box Arena where the GB Boccia team were taking on Paralympic boccia champions, Greece.
After slipping from a two point lead Great Britain were all square with Greece at three all with one end to go. Patrick Wilson, in only his second international match, started brightly by snuggling his first shot on the jack, although it wasn’t enough to stop Greece from finding a way back. On any other day either of Jacob Thomas’s final two shots might themselves, have been match-winners but in the most dramatic final shot, in the final second of the game, Greece nudged in to gain the winning point with the match finishing 4-3 to Greece.
Going all the way
GB boccia player, Scott McCowan was clearly disappointed with the outcome, especially after having had the advantage for a large stretch of the game but said: “We were happy though, we played a good game and the match went all the way but we came up short at the end. They’re Paralympic champions”.
On a positive note, it was clear that the team were delighted to be at the event given boccia’s relatively low profile amongst Paralympic disciplines with McCowan adding: “Obviously the crowd were fantastic. It’s similar to what we had last year and it really spurs us on and it’s good to raise the profile of boccia as well. We’re pleased about that but we would have preferred it if we had won comfortably – but that’s the way it goes.”
Another Paralympic sport that deserves more attention is goalball and again the Copper Box played host as GB took on Belgium. At half time it looked as though it’d be another defeat for GB since Belgium had scored twice just before the break to make it 5-2 in their favour.
GB always looked the better side on court with much more precision and organisation in their moves and managed to claw back three goals in the first portion of the second half. Player of the match was certainly Laura Perry who scored three times for GB. “Hammer it” was the audible advice from the bench as she swept in her final goal to give GB a 7 – 5 win.
The women’s goalball team certainly carry camaraderie and spirit enough to raise the profile of goalball. Today’s tense encounter was a superb illustration of the quality and skill needed to play this unusual game at the highest level.
National Paralympic Day was a huge success, demonstrating that the London 2012 legacy is still alive and well. With this level of support, ParalympicsGB are bound to take their success all the way to Rio in 2016.