In his second blog for the Tennis Foundation, Dermot Bailey tells all about his experiences of the Rio Paralympics as part of the Paralympic Inspiration Programme.
It’s been a hectic couple of days since my last blog as we’ve been soaking up all the sights and sounds of the Paralympics here in Rio. It’s been an incredible experience as we’ve watched the British medals roll in and watched world records being broken everywhere.
We had the honour of meeting royalty yesterday when we were introduced to HRH Prince Edward who is an ambassador for ParalympicsGB. It was really exciting and he was really interested to find out about the Inspiration Programme and what we’d been up to. We’ve had the chance to watch a lot of sports which has been great and the atmosphere has been brilliant. We had our first experience of Brazilian crowd which was crazy, they were so loud and I can only imagine what it would be like to compete in front of that noise and support.
We’ve also watched sports that perhaps we wouldn’t normally which have included powerlifting. It was amazing, the strength of the guys we watched is insane and we saw two world records being broken which was pretty special! As well as all the other sports we have made a trip down to the tennis centre to cheer on the British guys in their matches. The results have been pretty positive so far with a lot of British players moving through the rounds successfully. We managed to watch Dave Phillipson and Marc McCarroll in the doubles and Jordanne Whiley and Andy Lapthorne in the singles. Watching those guys play on the huge show courts with such packed crowds really makes me want to be out there myself even more.
I also had the chance to watch a good friend of mine Phil Pratt play in the wheelchair basketball. Phil used to play wheelchair tennis and we used to go to quite a few tournaments together. He chose to play basketball rather than continuing with tennis and it’s clearly worked out well for him! I hadn’t seen him for ages so it was great to see him in action here. Britain beat Algeria in the group stages which made it an even better day!
It’s not been all just watching and cheering on the British success thought. We’ve been kept busy with lots of meetings and sessions about all things Paralympics including dealing with the media, how best to compete at the games and also how we will use what we have learnt once we return home and get back into training. A lot of these sessions have taken place in the village which has been pretty cool. We ate in the food hall as well which was pretty special. It was also really great to meet Penny Briscoe who is Chef de Mission for ParalympicsGB out in Rio. She was really interested in the programme and despite being incredibly busy found time to talk to all of us.
Yesterday was our last day out and about on the park so we went down to the tennis to cheer on the Brits. Our last day is full of wrap up meetings before we head back to the UK and back to reality!