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I won’t lie, I’m beginning to struggle as we finish day three. (Or is it four?) Everytime I think I’ll get a good night’s sleep, my brain hits me with an alarmingly long to-do list and before I know it, it’s go-time once more.
The pace of major events such as the Paralympic Games means that you don’t get any time to revel in an accomplishment like a gold medal.
The minute I woke up this morning, all thoughts of Ellen Keane’s victory were put to the back of my mind as Team Ireland looked toward yet another packed schedule – more swimming, cycling, equestrian, and table tennis, while archery and athletics also got underway. It can be a bit overwhelming trying to include every sport and give it decent coverage so sometimes you just need to step back and take a breath.
I decided to start my day by returning to table tennis where Colin Judge was fighting for a place in the quarter finals. I’ve said it before, I’ll say it again, this is becoming one of my favourite sports to watch. Athletes with one leg, athletes with one arm, athletes with no arms, all playing to an incredibly high standard where the pace and skill is unbelievable.
It wasn’t to be for Colin today, losing to the player who knocked him out of the semi-finals of the qualifying event last week. Chatting to him afterwards was an eye-opener into the nature of sport. Just 15 hours after Ireland wins its first medal at the Games, one of its players is knocked out and has to go home.
I often see comments on social channels after matches in all sports where people criticise the media for sticking mics and cameras in peoples faces after a disappointing loss and it always irks me. Obviously, I can’t speak for the whole media community but it is certainly the last thing I want to be doing. But it’s also our job.
Win or lose, the reality is that the best quotes are given in the heat of the moment, straight after the action and whether they want to admit it or not, that is what the public want. An instant reaction, not a thought-out, rehearsed speech.
Luckily most sports people know that that is the nature of the game and Colin was more than giving with his time despite how low he felt. I’ve no doubt he’ll be back in three years time in Paris.
After the most welcome lunch of my life (it was a pizza but I would have eaten a scabby horse at that stage), it was onto Equestrian for most of the Team Ireland media to watch Michael Murphy and Katie Kerr-Horan in action in the Dressage.
— Pundit Arena (@PunditArena) August 27, 2021
I love watching Equestrian events at these Games and normally I’d be buzzing with excitement to watch it in person. But there was one major problem – the heat. This was my first outdoor event to cover and it was a slog. I don’t know if I have mentioned the weather so far and that’s probably because it’s been manageable with not much to complain about.
Air conditioned rooms, air conditioned venues, air conditioned transport, blowers that blast blessed cold air at you in the waits between buses, it’s been a dream so far. But being out in the heat in the dry, dusty Equestrian Park left me sticky, cranky and slightly burnt.
All part of the experience I suppose. By day 14 I’ll be used to it. I hope!