Opening Ceremonies

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.