Day three and the Paralympic Inspiration Programme (PiP) athletes were paid a visit by Minister for Sport, Heritage and Tourism Tracey Crouch, she was keen to find out more about the Programme and the athletes on it. This provided the group an opportunity to engage with a senior political figure, something that is an integral part of being a world-class athlete.
After the privilege of meeting Tracey, the group headed off to the athlete village to experience living as a Paralympian. The group was shown around the accommodation, where the athletes stay throughout Games time as well as eating lunch in the expansive food hall where competitors from all corners of the globe gather en masse for their meals. The food available equally reflects the diversity of the nation’s taking part and it was a good opportunity for the athletes to make some performance choices when faced with temptation.
After lunch there was a stroll around the Village pointing out the Polyclinic where athletes can access services such as dentistry, opticians, x-rays and minor procedures, if and when needed. The gym facilities are vast and are available for athletes to exercise. After a short bus journey we arrived at British House, upon arriving the athletes were greeted by a warm reception from the ParalympicsGB staff team. The space is used to host nearest and dearest, UK media and other British delegation and VIPs. Here they had the opportunity to speak with their mentors where conversation included topics on classification, anti-doping, accreditation and living as a Paralympian in the village. Following this the group settled down to watch Gordon Reid and Alfie Hewett battle it out on court in the final of the men’s singles wheelchair tennis on the big screens.
PiP archer Steve Gill said: “I’ve already taken lots out of the week so far, it’s made me think more about asking for help particularly from athlete mentor Rik “the legend” Waddon who has massively inspired me. The atmosphere was electric at the archery yesterday and I’m looking forward to seeing the swimming tomorrow to experience the atmosphere and feel. We’re very lucky to have this Programme in place, I haven’t ever seen myself as an athlete, but this Programme is helping me understand that I can proudly say I am.”
Tomorrow athletes will be back experiencing their specific sports in action - where they’ll be encouraged by their mentors to think about performing under pressure. It is the last opportunity for the group to experience the competition environment learning from the best athletes in the world on the largest international stage before they wrap up modules, debrief with mentors, and head to the Closing Ceremony.