No entry yesterday as the wigglyamps disconnected me from my email; well that is my excuse and I am sticking to it. There is a relaxed but focused atmosphere in the camp and that is good. It would be all too easy to wind the tension stakes up too early.
Horses and riders had their first experience of riding in the Main Arena yesterday; the Field of Play to give it its correct title – I rather like to refer to it as the “Field of Dreams” as perhaps that is where dreams are realised or broken. LOCOG have been very generous (and very sensible), riders will be able to ride on the Field of Play on a daily basis from now until competition starts. It is very important that the horses get as acclimatised as possible to the arena; some para-equestrian dressage riders have limited ability to “stay on board” if a horse becomes spooked or too excitable. This poses another challenge for LOCOG and that is how they “educate” the spectators – nobody wants a silent Games with no applause but it would be terrible if the applause caused a horse to spook and a rider to fall; discussions ongoing!!
Training was followed by a trip up to ParalympicsGB House for a Press Conference. ParalympicsGB House (was Team GB House during the Olympics) is situated in part of the Westfield Centre and fills a number of functions: 1) It is a place where sponsors and key personnel can be entertained, 2) it provides a venue for non-accredited media to work from and meet athletes, 3) it is where ParalympicsGB staff work from who do not have access to the Village and (very importantly) 4) it is where athletes can meet up with their 'Nearest & Dearest' in a relaxed and private environment. So the “House” is a busy place!
The Press Conference lasted about 45 minutes and that will be that for press commitments until after competition; less of course for the Mixed Zone. All athletes must go through the Mixed Zone once they have competed, almost immediately after exciting the Field of Play. They must go through the Mixed Zone although they do not have to speak to the media – you will have seen the pictures of athletes being grabbed for TV interviews immediately after a race / competition.
A fun evening in Cafe Rouge then followed; grooms, staff and British Dressage staff who are working at the Paralympics. BD is well represented here and it is great to see so many friendly faces each day.
More training today and a very important meeting between David Hunter, Sarah Armstrong and myself; how everyone is going to get home! The planning for the departure has to start early and with horses / grooms / staff / kit to get back to the riders’ yards and the stables to strip out, the plan needs to be watertight! The athletes will stay in London until the Closing Ceremony on 9th September and the Team GB / ParalympicsGB Parade in London on 10th September.
Yes, the place to be on 10th September is London; big party!
I spent the afternoon catching up on some admin but also made a quick visit to Westfield to buy some trainers....with specially moulded insoles – how techno modern is that?