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Even though we have a few days left of action, it really feels like the beginning of the end over here in Tokyo.
Talk has begun to turn to departure flights and negative COVID certificates and homecomings… In one way it feels like an eternity since we landed in Japan bright-eyed and bushy-tailed and in another, this experience has gone by in the blink of an eye.
The standout memory of today will be of the weather. It was COLD. It was 21 degrees, which in Ireland is a balmy summer’s day but in Tokyo, when we are wearing shorts and t-shirts, the cold breeze feels like the equivalent of a blizzard. Fair enough, that may be an exaggeration but yesterday it was 33 degrees so the sharp drop in temperature was certainly a shock to the system. It was also raining. We all raced back to the hotel at lunchtime to throw on hoodies and tracksuits, clothes we had exclusively set aside for the journey back to Ireland.
Most of the Irish athletes have already been in action across numerous days and events already so it’s hard to believe that there are still members of Team Ireland waiting patiently in the wings for their moment. In the next few days I’ll get a chance to see so many new sports like canoe and wheelchair marathon so plenty of new experiences still to come.
Five finals ✅
Numerous personal bests ✅
— Pundit Arena (@PunditArena) September 1, 2021
Another new experience for me today was being approached by a foreign news broadcaster who asked me for an interview about Ireland’s views on the Paralympic Games. Which is the second time I’ve been interviewed on that topic since I arrived. I’m delighted to chat about our records and opinions but the questions were slightly bizarre. It amazes me that people still ask if the Paralympics are important or to speak about the difference between these Games and the Olympics.
I think Irish people can be so proud of the Paralympic movement in this country. Not just of the athletes but at the organisation spearheading it. We have such a rich history at the Games dating back to its beginnings in 1960 and our results speak for themselves. But a lot of the chatter around these Games and para-sport often sounds patronising and sometimes degrades the efforts and commitment of those involved. And it’s beyond time we moved on from that narrative.