We had a great day yesterday at Swansea IPC Athletics European Championships 2014. If you live nearby then I would definitely recommend that you try to get tickets for the next following days to support both our homegrown GB Team and visiting athletes and also to witness a part of paralympic athletic history live for yourself.
Getting there and parking
We travelled from the West, leaving the M4 at Junction 47. I admit that I did get a little bit lost due to leaving the wrong exit on a mini double roundabout. We parked at St Helen’s Recreation Ground on Oystermouth Road. There were plenty of spaces available here and it was at a very reasonable cost of £3 per day (£3.50 if carrying no passengers). Directions from the East are available within the spectator information and there is also a Park and Ride Available.
From the car park, there was a short walk to The Championship Venue. We cut through the University Grounds for a more scenic route. As we got closer to the event, we were warmly greeted by Champion Volunteers (wearing red t-shirts and green caps) They high fived us, checked that we knew were we were going and wished us a lovely day. If you need to know anything, ask the Champion Volunteers, if they can’t help you, they will be sure to find someone who can.
On arrival we walked through the Spectator Village and were presented with the essentials that all spectators need- wrist bands, flags and clappers. The kids loved making a noise with these!
We tried some delicious smoothies courtesy of Sainsbury’s. There were also food and merchandise stalls. I’m sorry that we didn’t make it to the Welsh Athletics/Disability Sport Wales “Give it a Go” tent where we would have had the chance to try out some track and field events for ourselves!
We grabbed an Official Programme, got to know the event schedule and settled down to watch the athletics. Our only previous experience of watching sports live as a family has been at school sports day so I wasn’t sure what the kids would make of it all.
They soon settled into the spirit. Waving their flags, banging their “clappers” and cheering on the athletes.
We were lucky enough to see Discus, Shot Put, Long Jump, Javelin and 100m races. We had an excellent view and there were also screens and information screens to watch too.
It was also exciting when the athletes were awarded their medals in between the events. It was very touching each time the audience stood to the Gold Medallist’s own National Anthem. Of course, I did not know the words of every national anthem (only one in fact!) so I waved my flag in time to the music as my mark of respect!
We all cheered again as the medallists walked past our seats with their medals and Welsh Goody bags (I wonder what was in them?).
As we were guests of Sainsbury’s we were lucky enough to have access to the VIP Areas.
There are plenty of toilets in the Spectator Areas but I have to admit I appreciated having access to the VIP toilets- they were quite posh portaloos (oxymoron alert)! Now I don’t usually go around taking photos of portaloos (it’s not a secret hobby of mine I promise!) however…
…they even had mirrors and floral decorations inside! Very nice!
As well as getting excited by toilets I also get excited by water it seems! Not just any water, but pure Pembrokeshire water from the Princes Gate Spring. It’s a lovely reminder of home when we’re out of the county and they are doing a great job keeping all the athletes hydrated.
We enjoyed a lovely lunch- Danny’s drink is apple juice not wine I can assure you!
Danny enjoyed some olives but forgot to offer his poor mum any!
Then came the most exciting part of our day! A meet and great with Commonwealth Champion Discus Thrower Dan Greaves. He was so lovely and signed all of our flags.
This inspired Rebecca’s son to practise signing his autograph (ready for when he is famous, of course!). He drew a medal on his flag, bless him!
My Dan challenged Discus Dan to guess his name as he enjoyed being name twins with such an inspiring champion.
The boys all had a couple of photos with Dan. Caitlyn was too shy and is always hit and miss with posed photos at the best of times but it’s not like Rebecca to refuse. She later told me it was because she doesn’t like to have her photo taken with “strangers in a city” (I suppose I should be grateful that she has listened to my Stranger Danger talks!”). Danny had a couple of promotional bags from various sponsors but the girls both politely said “No, thank you.” to these offers too. Once home, Danny shared the mints, highlighters etc out with them so all was not lost. He gave me a new trolley token key ring so I was happy too!
Even though having a heart condition is not an eligible criteria to be in the Paralympic Sports, it was still amazing for Danny to see how athletes with other disabilities had overcome them and went on to do amazing things. I’m sure it will spur him on to do well within his Special Needs Gymnastics.
We chatted for a while with Dan. He laughed when the kids admitted they hadn’t heard of his room mate and friend Jonnie Peacock and teased that he would tell him that! Well, they know who he is now and were delighted to hear that he went on to triumph in the T44 100m to complete his set of European, Paralympic and World titles. All achieved in 11.26 seconds. Wow.
Dan asked questions about our blogging and explained that he understood how time consuming it can be as he writes his own blog on his website. I can’t wait to read his next post which will surely be about his success at the Commonwealth Games (and then one about Swansea 2014, of course).
We’d like to thank Dan Greaves for taking time out of training to meet us and wish him lots of luck for the Discus Throw Final on Friday. We hope the weather conditions are perfect for him on the day!
After watching all that running, our kids were all in need of a run around themselves to let off steam so we let them explore the “not yet ready” acorns that had fell from the trees and the large pine cones still securely on the trees above.
Then we started our journey back home again. It was a privilege to be part of this event for the day and I hope the rest of the week goes well. I can’t wait to watch the rest of the coverage and the closing ceremony.
Well done to everyone taking part, working and volunteering at the event- you are all champions to me!
Tickets to this event are available here.
We were invited to Swansea 2014 IPC Athletics Championships by Team Sainsbury’s (sponsors of Team GB). All views, opinions and photos of posh portaloos are our own.