Alongside the athletes competing for medals at the Rio Paralympics we are also sending three athletes out to Rio as part of the British Paralympic Association’s (BPA) Paralympic Inspiration Programme (PIP).
The PIP programme aims to provide athletes and coaching staff with an experience of several days at a Paralympic Games. It aims to provide developing athletes knowledge that will prepare them for a future Games experience as a selected athlete.
One of the athletes on the programme, 22-year-old Dermot Bailey blogs for us about his experiences in Rio so far.
We arrived in Rio at about 11pm Rio time (3am UK time) on Tuesday after a long flight from Heathrow. Luckily we weren’t too affected by the delays on British Airways and had a pretty decent flight. We did get stopped a few times in Heathrow Airport and asked for photos by people who thought we were competing in Rio as we were all dressed in Paralympics GB kit. I didn’t have the heart to tell them I wasn’t so I smiled for the photos and enjoyed my five minutes of fame!
We had the launch of PIP a few weeks ago at Tedworth House back in the UK where we met everyone else on the programme for the first time and learnt more about what we would experience over the coming week. We’ve got a pretty action packed week planned with tours, talks and the chance to watch some of the sports. We’re staying in the same hotel as the friends and family of a lot of the GB wheelchair tennis team. It’s quite nice because I know quite a lot of the friends and family from the wheelchair tennis tour so there’s lots of familiar faces.
There are three of us from wheelchair tennis on the programme. Myself, James Shaw who is a player in the quad division and Esperanza Merry (Espi) who I have known for years and travelled to a lot of tournaments together. I’m sharing with James and the hotel is amazing, the rooms are massive and the view is not too shabby either. We’re being looked after really well.
By the time we got to the hotel we were all pretty shattered so we crashed out straight to sleep. After managing to flood the bathroom with my first shower in the room we had our first team meeting up right at the top of the hotel with a pretty spectacular view. We were given our detailed schedules for the day and then it was off to British House. I’m under strict instructions from my family to take lots of photos which I have been doing!
British House is amazing, it’s such an incredible set up and we were treated like real VIPs. We were introduced to everyone at British House and then it was our first module which was all about the media and what we could expect during the Games.
After that it was off to the Maracana for the opening Ceremony. Right from the start the atmosphere was incredible and when the GB team came in, led by Lee Pearson the noise was massive. It was such an amazing experience to be a part of and I tried to spot some of the wheelchair players in the crowd! After it was all over we were all buzzing and to be part of the GB team parading in the ceremony would be incredible. After that it was back to the hotel and straight into bed ready for a busy few days!