Tuesday, September 09, 2008

Impressions from China - Beijing Paralympics 2008 - Cycling

I went to the Beijing Olympics Velodrome today to watch the Cycling event of the Paralympics. I figured it was a great way to check out the venue & at the same time, watch these amazing athletes who don't let their disabilities hold them back from what they want to do & excel at it.

The Velodrome

The Velodrome is situated in the south-western part of Beijing - it took us over an hour & a half to get there! The heavy traffic didn't make it any easier - so much for the odd-even number arrangement (which is still in place till at least Sept 20). In any case, the first sight of the Velodrome was an awesome one. It resembles a UFO. Inside, it's spanking new, but the seats are not for the acrophobic as there are no banisters to help you climb up the steps in the spectator seats, & nothing to prevent you from falling down to the lower levels of the seats!

Inside the UFO

It was amazing (& humbling) watching the parathletes compete; some were amputees, cycling with only one arm & one leg; others were visually impaired, riding on tandem bikes with a pilot in front to guide the way; yet others had cerebral palsy of varying severity. All rode at speeds faster than what I could ever probably achieve!

Outside the Velodrome

At times, we were trying to figure out what kind of disability they had. We didn't mean to be insensitive, but they were so good, that it was sometimes hard to tell that they even HAD any disability!

Amputee -Category LC3

Visually Impaired - Category B/VI

Video of part of the LC3 event (this cyclist only had one arm & one leg...but look at him go!!!)

Medal Ceremony

We watched the Medal Ceremony of the Cerebral Palsy category in which Great Britain won, & I believe, broke the world record! Somehow, something about seeing the flags going up as the national anthem of whichever country won the gold medal brings up the emotions in me & makes me tear up!

Next up - the Bird's Nest athletics event next week! Stay tuned!

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