True respect

Last Saturday, 13th September 2014. three of us from our family went to the Queen Elizabeth Park – 2012 Olympic Park to watch some of the Invictus Games. My wife had booked tickets for the afternoon session of the Wheelchair Basketball, an event we had seen in 2012 at the Paralympics. Like our 2012 visit we were going to see another event in the park – this time we did not need a park pass and we were able to enjoy the cycling on the Lee Valley road circuit alongside the velodrome which we will always know as “the Pringle”.

We arrived at about 10am and walked through the park. At that time it was quiet and distances seemed further than they had in 2012 as there were fewer structures and people about. Even so it still appeared that the early events were gathering loyal supporters who outnumbered the amount of viewers at The Warrior Games as we had seen on a documentary recently.

As we approached the velodrome we could hear the running commentary then espied the big screen showing the competitors. The morning’s time trials although pitting individuals against the clock were not as thrilling as the circuit races we saw later. That is until you noticed the t shirts worn by fellow spectators clearly there to support colleagues or family and friends. Banners were unfurled over barriers or the bridge near the finish. This was a smaller event, the link between the competitors and many of our fellow spectators early in the day was clear to see and it brought a tear to the eye and a lump in the throat. On a refreshment break we watched medal ceremonies on the big screen where medal lists went up with one, two, three limbs damaged or missing, yet they competed heartily. Victims of psychological trauma hid secrets we could not fathom. This was very emotional and we felt honoured to be there.

We saw one of the GB gold medallists whose family we had noticed earlier with his gold medal. My wife approached and asked if we could take a picture of him with our son, who by this point was sporting his Dad’s (mine) hoodie. Much too big but he wanted to be seen to be supporting the cause.

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The circuit races were a more competitive sight with the motorbike camera crew circling the track with the teams. We watched as we moved off towards the Copperbox Arena for an afternoon of thrills and spills.

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I will post some of these images separately as they are on another device. The arena was busy with an expectant air. The commentator enthused the crowd and we cheered for all good play and either side. We were very fortunate to see 4 matches including both semi finals. The two teams with full squads being GB and the USA. Later in the evening when we returned home we watched the Final on TV and were able to cheer on individuals by name having seen them play.

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After we left the arena we returned to the cycling area and watched more medal ceremonies identifying many individuals we had seen that morning. Two more GB athletes agreed to photos.

We have to say thank you to the competitors for a spirited and inspirational day and a very proud son to have had his picture with 3 GB gold medal winners.

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