Bailey and I travelled down to London on Saturday and met my friend at Euston. We crossed London and eventually found our hostel where we were staying. Was quite a nice place and very cheap but I struggled with space. Bailey’s a big dog to begin with and manoeuvring a small room and bathroom is not something I succeed well at. It’s the only downside I can think of about the place. Staff were friendly and I even had a spot to spend the pup.
Very tired and hungry, we got food and settled down to sleep. Well, I tried to sleep, but I never sleep good on the first night in a new place.
Bailey was restless too but we were all raring to go on Sunday. Thankfully, the sessions we had were both in the afternoon. And so we arrived in Greenwich, by the docklands railway after buying some lunch to take into the park and were told to get in the accessibility line. I’m so glad the guy pointed us in that direction, or else the event may have been spoilt by struggling with a guide dog in crowds and not finding things we would need access to such as the headphones that would provide commentary.
After getting through the queues, which moved very quickly we went through the airport type security and then found the mobility service where I picked up an ear piece which was tuned to Greenwich’s radio stream already.
Finding our seats, up in the stand as we had general admin, we settled down to watch the individual test Grade III.
I was actually shocked that we watched two classes on Sunday afternoon but it was the best experience.
Grade III is the grade a totally blind person with no other disabilities would compete in so I was thrilled I got to see this particular test. Our rider in this Grade is of course Deb Criddle who has her arm amputated and her leg only has 50 percent capacity. She uses a rein strap to control the horse as she only has one hand. Incredible lady! She was about third on the running order I believe so we had a long wait to get the conclusion of the test.
In the Grade III test, they were asked to do various movements, such as, canter, counter canter, rein back, extended trot, medium canter and a fair few more. I did try and look for the test online but I can’t seem to locate which one they used.
The commentary was fabulous and I really got a feel of what was happening in the Arena.
Deb of course won silver, very well deserved and then it was the time for Grade IA to begin. This was good for me to see the difference in abilities from riders. The whole no clapping when riders came out or were leaving was strange but completely understandable. I enjoyed waving a lot on Sunday.
They also use friendly or companion horses to keep the competition horse calm during the test. This is evidently more essential for those riders who have such limited mobility.
Sophie Christiansen was up first for Paralympic GB but we were waiting for the lift to take us back up as you weren’t allowed in the mechanical lift or walking up and down stairs during tests. This also made a lot of sense. We stood watching in the downstairs area where there was a huge screen and I listened on my headset. She was phenomenal! Everyone held their breath as she finished and raised her hand for everyone to cheer and the crowd went crazy! She’d scored 83%, what more could we ask of her?
We returned to our seat and watched the rest of the competion with anxious hearts. Sophie just had to win gold!
grade IA is the lowest grade adn holds the athletes with the most mobility issues. Becuase of this, only walk is used in the IA test which I wasn’t sure I’d enjoy as much but it held a certain eloquence of its own.
Before we knew it, and as the weather chilled a little, we realised no one was going to come close to Sophie’s amazing score. She’d done it again, winning gold for Great Britain. The atmosphere was electric. There’s some embarrassing audio boos of me singing the national anthem badly while my voice cracked with emotion.
Not only did Sophie win gold but the Team medals were announced and although not presented, we learnt that Great Britain had secured the gold with a record breaking score. They really were our greatest Team.
The games makers and everyone were thrilled as we left Greenwhich park. I was thrilled and so proud of our riders and excited to see what the next day would bring.