After several days of training in preparation for the Paralympic
Games, it was finally the big day ... September 6 - Opening Ceremonies. I had
watched the Opening Ceremonies of the Olympic Games with my family while eating
dinner at Anna Eames' house, and while I knew that the Ceremony for the Paralympics
would be different from the Olympics, I still was hoping that we would get a
great show. However, I was also very apprehensive of the evening because the
weather on this day was unusually warm and very, very humid. However, we were
decked out in our Ralph Lauren outfits, as seen in the picture above.
We were all sternly warned not to take ANY pictures during our
march into the Bird's Nest. Apparently, there was great concern on the part
of United States Olympic Committee that we should show proper respect for China.
While we were marching through the tunnel, I found a friend from the US Paralympic
organization who was watching us file by, and quickly handed my camera to her
for a sneaky pictures. I am standing with Jimi Flowers, the team lead coach
who is pushing Dave Denniston. Dave is a former world record holder and great
breaststroker from Auburn who was paralyzed in a sledding accident. I am pushing
Tom Miazga, an S7 swimmer from Milwaukee, while Alex Dionne is peeking at the
camera from behind Jimi and I.
The Opening Ceremonies were truly spectacular, as the pictures
below will show, but it was very warm. Within a short time, all of us were soaked
with perspiration, but with great seats in the third row, I did not mind my
own discomfort, and I do not think anyone else did either. I have included a
series of pictures from the Opening Ceremonies in the sequence below, and hope
you will enjoy what we were so privileged to see.
One of the most dramatic moments of the Opening Ceremonies was
the lighting of the Paralympic Flame. Eight different disabled athletes from
China's past Paralympic teams made up the final relay of 400 meters around the
track, with the seventh being a blind athlete who passed the baton to an eighth
relay member who was paralyzed from the waist down. While strapped to his wheelchair,
he hoisted himself and the torch up a rope to the very top of the Bird's Nest.
After quite a few minutes of strenuous effort, he reached the interior of the
flame's housing and lit the torch ... surrounded by fires as it danced from
the bottom to the top. It was a really cool moment.
With the Opening Ceremonies completed, it was time to get back
to the Paralympic Village and get ready for the first day of competition. The
Bird's Nest looked so spectacular in the night, lit up inside and out, with
the flame burning brightly. Well, it is time to see how the competition in the
pool went. Please proceed to Anna Eames' Racing,
Justin Zook's Racing, or Deb
Gruen's Racing. Of course, you can go back to the Kadena
Page or even the Syllabus.