Electric atmosphere at London Paralympics | Sports | CBC Sports

ParalympicsElectric atmosphere at London Paralympics

Posted: Saturday, September 1, 2012 | 09:23 AM

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Great Britain fans get excited on day 1 of the London 2012 Paralympic Games on Thursday. (Gareth Copley/Getty Images) Great Britain fans get excited on day 1 of the London 2012 Paralympic Games on Thursday. (Gareth Copley/Getty Images)

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I have to say that I am more than impressed with London. In fact, I am on the cusp of being blown away. Not only are the venues immaculate and well organized - we knew that would be the case. But, they are packed full of excited fans
I wrote a piece on the day of the opening ceremony essentially saying that folks over here in London had already anointed the 2012 edition of the Paralympics as the best Games ever.

I was not disputing that they had that potential but asked how that could be the case if not a single event had been contested or a medal awarded. 

Well I have to say that I am more than impressed with London. In fact, I am on the cusp of being blown away. Not only are the venues immaculate and well organized - we knew that would be the case. But, they are packed full of excited fans. We knew that more than two million tickets had been sold and now we see the fans using those tickets and creating an electric atmosphere seldom seen in Paralympic sport. 

And then yesterday, I stepped foot in the big stadium (Olympic/Paralympic stadium) where track and field is being held and it was something to behold with 80,000 in attendance. Not far from the stadium there was a crowd in the thousands watching the events on giant monitors while sitting picnic-style on the lawns on either side of the river.

Yet another sign of the Paralympic Games' popularity is the British television viewership numbers. The opening ceremony was watched by over 11 million people in the host country which was the highest-rated program on Channel 4 (the Paralympics TV rights holder in Great Britain) in over a decade.

Canadian perspective

From a Canadian perspective, the pool has delivered five of the first six medals including gold and a world record (50-metre freestyle) for Summer Mortimer, who also has a silver medal in her Paralympic debut. When we caught up with Summer and her teammate Nathan Stein (silver medal winner in the men's S10 50m freestyle) for an interview, she insisted that Nathan do his interview first. When the chats were over, the two spent 15 minutes posing for photos with dozens of adoring fans. It was all done with a kind of grace which seems to be common place with Canadian Paralympians (and Olympians for that matter).

When the Beijing Paralympic Games had ended, Patrick Anderson (of Fergus, Ontario) thought that he was finished with wheelchair basketball. He had spent much of his life making a difficult sport look easy and had two gold medals and a silver to show from three Paralympic Games. But in January 2011, he decided to rejoin the team and the 33-year-old has been marvelous in Canada's first two wins. 

In game one against Japan, he scored Canada's first 23 points and went on to collect 32 in total. But he topped that in the second game by recording Canada's first ever triple-double in wheelchair basketball. Anderson registered double figures in points (29), rebounds (14) and assists (10). The assist number proves that not only is he a brilliant individual talent but that he understand what some athletes - Alex Ovechkin comes to mind - do not, the best players are more dangerous when they fully utilize their teammates.

But, what I really love about Patrick is that he doesn't believe his own press releases, so to speak. As great as his accomplishments have been over the last decade and a half, he does not seem to be particularly impressed by them.

How Canadian is that?

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