Sunrise on 8 September saw two Southampton customers, plus carers, speed along the motorway toward the Paralympics in exciting anticipation of watching the wheelchair rugby.
The ride was made as smooth as possible, from carer tickets being automatically allocated to reserved car parking placed as conveniently as possible given how vast the Olympic Village is. Cheerful Games Makers everywhere you turned kept us on track until we eventually took our seats in the Basketball Arena.
Cheers and the British national anthem set the tone; we were there for real and would indeed see Team GB, initially thrashing Belgium in a high-scoring match (54-49). No bodily contact allowed but still action-packed and nicknamed ‘Murderball’: chairs collide and crash, racing to get the ball over the line. Wheelchair engineers are kept on their toes but regular cheers go up as physios quickly have players back in action. That geared us up for staying to see GB triumph again late-evening against Sweden (59-47), keeping entertained beforehand by the close match between Canada and the USA (49-50).
Even as everyone made a mass exodus exit approaching midnight, there was a warm feeling of community having made the most of this memorable and inspirational opportunity.