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Through colour, music, dancing and fireworks, the Tokyo 2020 Paralympic Games were officially brought to an end on Sunday.
For us, it felt like the Games ended earlier that morning when our last Paralympian, Pat Monahan, crossed the line in his T54 wheelchair marathon event. In fact the whole morning, we felt and were acting a bit giddy. Though that was probably from tiredness after getting up at 5am to see Pat in action.
There was definitely a sense of satisfaction knowing our final event was over but it was tinged with a small bit of regret. These have been the longest, and sometimes the most stressful, 14 days of my career but they have also been without doubt the highlight.
There was a brief moment where I thought, ‘well what do I do now?’ before that was quickly replaced by a plan of action: A final COVID test, breakfast (it was only 9.30am) and a nap. But before we could do any of that, we had to jump in for farewell photos in front of the Agitos (Paralympic symbols).
It wasn’t to be our last trip to the Olympic Stadium however as we returned hours later for the Closing Ceremony. And in keeping in fashion with the Opening, the journey to the stadium included missing the last bus, a tense taxi journey through traffic, negotiations with police, and a last-minute dash to make it in time. We will be more prepared for our trip to the airport…
Irish flag being carried into the Olympic Stadium by double gold medalist, Katie George Dunlevy, who is accompanied by pilot Eve McCrystal! ??@AllianzIreland #TeamIreland #Tokyo2020 #Paralympics pic.twitter.com/zi0Cmlul1f
— Pundit Arena (@PunditArena) September 5, 2021
The Closing Ceremony was a fitting end to these Games. Artists and dancers with all different types of disabilities were celebrated while the volunteers were the star of the show as they have been throughout this experience. For Ireland, it was also entirely fitting that our most successful Paralympian of the Games, Katie George Dunlevy, carried the flag in the parade, accompanied by her pilot Eve McCrystal. What a duo for young people to look up to.
Toward the end, the baton was officially passed on to France ahead of Paris 2024, well the Paralympic flag to be more exact. God knows where any of us will be in three years time or what we’ll be doing but all I know is that I am determined that Tokyo will not be the last Paralympic Games I attend. I am forevermore a dedicated supporter of the Games and this outstanding Team Ireland.