Closing Ceremonies

Closing Ceremonies happened on the evening of September 17, and this evening, we were all marched into the stadium BEFORE anything began. As a result, we were comfortably seated and able to watch the entire show. It was really cool to be sitting in a place where we had a nice view of the Paralympic Flame, because we were almost directly underneath it during the Opening Ceremonies. It was nowhere near as hot and humid this evening, and the show was really fun to watch. As the pictures below will show, the colors and outfits of the participants were a true spectacle. With the ignition of a few fireworks from the rooftop, the event began.

In the two pictures above, and the two below, you can see little red leaves dropping from the rooftop of the Bird's Nest. I have no idea how many were dropped, but it seemed like millions of these leaves ... and they kept falling and falling until the entire grounds in the Bird's Nest was covered in red and yellow leaves. At one point, Philip Scholz, our S-11 swimmer stood up to try and catch some of the leaves.

A while later in the show, volunteers were hooked up to ropes with caribeners and lofted into the sky, as seen in the images above and below.. As the mechanisms were working, the volunteers were lifted and dropped in a wave of dance-like movements that were mesmerizing.

The show continued to dazzle in colors and music. The girls pictured above had little white cannisters and pens hanging from their necks. We were given postcards and pens and told to write to anyone we wanted to, and anyhwere in the world. I wrote a quick note to my wife and daughters, and the mailgirls came around and collected the cards. The card arrived at the house a week later, much to the delight of my daughters. I took the picture seen below of one of the mailgirls who was standing underneath the Bird's Nest as we were walking inside. At the time, I had no idea what the purpose of her outfit was, but 90 minutes later it was all clear to me.

After the final song was sung, and the last firework ignited, we walked onto the field to just stand around and enjoy what we had just seen. A large group of Chinese dancers were exiting the field (seen above) as Doc Maning and I were walking around. Their outfits were amazing, but the fingernails and the eyes on palms of their hands was even more cool to see. As we were getting ready to leave the field, I noticed Oleskii Fednya from the Ukraine. He was the talented S-13 swimmer who had won 5 medals, two of which were silver and three of which were gold, and all of the gold medal swims were world records. I thought it would be a good idea to get my picture with him (seen below).

It was over ... months and months of waiting, weeks of travel overseas, training and competition and anticipation of exciting races, and time spent with a fabulous staff and group of athletes had come to an end. All I could think of at the time was displayed on the big screen in the Bird's Nest at the conclusion of the Closing Ceremonies. The city of Beijing and the country of China was created an absolutely wonderful and truly memorable time. For six weeks in the summer of 2008, the people of Beijing hosted the Olympics and the Paralympics, and the $40 billion that was spent on ceremonies, buildings, roads, and greenery made their event something that London, England will have a seriously difficult time matching.

Now ... I have had so many people ask me if we got to see any of the sights of Beijing. While we were in China to participate in the Paralympics, we did have about 36 hours to do a little sightseeing. On the day of September 16, and in the morning of September 17, we were able to get to the Great Wall and the Forbidden City in Tianamen Square. If you want to see a few pictures of these notable places, you can move ahead to Beijing Extras, Pictures Taken by my Daughters, or else you can return to any of the following options:

Justin Zook's Racing

Anna Eame's Racing

Deb Gruen's Racing

Opening Ceremonies

Kadena

The Course Syllabus