15 September 2012

Grand finals and closing ceremony!

September 7th
Well it was certainly hard to go to sleep last night even though I was in bed at a decent time. My heart was still racing from that nights game! The win was sooooo close it makes you get a sick feeling in the tummy. I tried doing the breathing techniques learnt earlier in the year (out dirty air, in clear air..) but it wasn't working. I was too excited!!

Today we had a light training session where we got done what we needed to then left for an afternoon of rest. I've never had to prepare for a Paralympic gold medal match before so pretty much winged it as far as pre-game prep was concerned. I had a little nanna nap and then got ready (which includes braiding of hair and the tying of green and gold ribbons). Every game I have been reading on the bus to the game but this time I was reading on the bus and in the change rooms before the game because I wanted to finish the third Hunger Games book (what a great trilogy!!).

Good luck card from our brother team the Rollers
It was a surreal feeling when lining up before going out on court knowing this was a gold medal game - the highest possible game a wheelchair basketballer could play. As soon as the game started it was an intense battle. The germans are amazing shooters and lead most of the game. They also played a good defense and were able to keep one of our shooting threats to zero points. They were the better shooting team on the day and unfortunately for us, made shots are what count when deciding a winner! Towards the end of the forth quarter the Gliders were told those horrible words: "play it out".

Had a message written on my wrist but should have written it in a thicker, darker pen!

The devastation I felt from losing was there inside me but I fought to keep it inside. So when the buzzer sounded and I smiled and kept on smiling: I just won a silver medal. I am a silver Paralympic medalist.

After the game it was such a rush to get ready for the medal ceremony. No time for anything except line up and put your ceremony jacket and pants on. It was great lining up on the silver line which happend to be across from where the Aussie supporters where seated in the crowd. Time seemed to go by quickly because it wasn't long before I was bowing my head to receive my medal (it's so heavy!) and then listening to the German national anthem before pushing off back to our change rooms. Once there we had a few debriefs and a special guest appearance by gold medalist (and fellow Glider!) Liesl Tesch. We were then allowed to go see our family and friends in the common area.

The crowd of green and gold outside of Starbucks has been a great way to finish of a game. But this time the cheer was that much bigger because we were rolling towards them with silver medals around our neck. I guess now is as good as time as ever to say a big thank you to my husband Lee and my brother in law Jon for making the sacrifices needed in order to support me in London. Having someone to run up to and hug made this Paralympics so much more special to me.

"Hi Dad"
I should also mention that the support on Twitter and Facebook has been amazing. On Twitter you realise you actually have fans, which for me is a weird concept. I am just Clare Nott from Perth, Australia but here I am with followers I don't know who are writing me with their messages of support. The daily hero messages are also an amazing mix of friends, family and fans. Facebook has been great - so many notifications of likes, comments and wall posts. I can't remember social media being this big 4 years ago :-)

So to anyone who has tweeted me, sent me a hero message, or wrote to me on facebook - THANK YOU! I really appreciated being able to read your messages while being away. Your support is amazing.

To the Gliders, we have all worked so hard these last four years. We have come along as a team in leaps and bounds. I know it is hard to have ended this journey on a loss, but we can be proud to be silver medalists. It is a step up better than Beijing and we have Rio to look forward to!

Anyway, back to the 7th of September - that night was pretty crazy. We didn't get back to the athlete village til after midnight and we still had to eat, and get change for some celebrations in Westfield.

The first place we go after arriving back in the village after our game

September 8th
Today was the first proper sleep in in a very long time. My number of hours slept was still significantly low though! Today was a big day though because the Aussie mens basketball team played in the gold medal game against Canada. I had my first London train experience and it wasn't too bad. The stations I got on and got off at were accessible which always makes a train experience a pleasant experience.

I watched the USA beat the GB boys in the bronze medal game. I then watched an amazing game of basketball in the Australia v Canada game. The quality of athleticism was so high. It was such a close game for the majority of it but in the end the Aussie boys weren't able to maintain the golden glory they have had since 2008.

USA v GB for bronze
Canada v Australia for gold
Silver medalists
That night was another late night :-)

September 9th
Another sleep in! Today was the last day of competition and the last day of the Paralympics. I can't believe how quickly it has come and gone! The APC have wrapped up the Paralympics in this great video:

Today I had the honour of watching the Aussie wheelchair rugby team (the Steelers) win gold in their grand final. It was also my first international wheelchair rugby game to watch so I am glad that it was a golden experience! Unfortunately I didn't stay for the medal ceremony because I needed to try get a nap in before having to get ready for the closing ceremony.

I napped as much as possible and had a short amount of time to get ready. I managed to get ready on time with about 15 minutes spare but the line to the lift was long and whenever it opened it was already full. So I bounced down 4 flights of stairs, with only one minor incidence of my chair wanting to go quicker than I did.

Waiting to go in was a big different than the opening ceremony because this time the athletes went in before the ceremony officially started. So we basically wandered in and found a spot to sit. It started off a bit slow but once all the fire dances and Coldplay started it was fantastic. We didn't have a program so we weren't quite sure what the symbolism of everything was, but it was great to watch. My dad who watched it on tv said it was a bit like Mad Max and thinking back now there is definitely a industrial, rough metal 'dad, we're dead meat!' feel to all the machines that the performers drove around the stadium.

Coldplay - they played most of the ceremony
Jay Z
ParalympicTV have the whole ceremony on youtube. If you missed it and have a spare 2.5 hours then you can watch it!

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