Invictus Games 2014

On Sunday my friend Eleanor and I went to the Invictus Games. We went to the sitting volleyball in the Copper Box on the Olympic Park.

Sitting Volleyball is one of the sports Eleanor and I saw at the paralympics (and then I saw some later in the paralympics with my Dad).  I loved watching it then but at the same time it made me a tiny little bit sad because it was the one of all the sports I saw that I wanted to play but I don’t have enough mobility for it and probably not enough sitting balance (it’s played sat on the floor).  I enjoyed watching it a lot on Sunday but it didn’t make me sad then. Mostly because I’ve discovered no where near here has a sitting volleyball team so it’s a moot point.

We met in London and were going to get the tube from Waterloo over to Stratford but the lift down onto the platform in the tube station was broken. So we had to walk to Southwark and get the tube from there.  The staff at Waterloo gave us directions to get there and radioed through to Southwark to check the lifts there were working and it all worked fine.  It just took a bit longer to get there although we were still in our seats with 20 minutes to spare.

There was a bit of an issue over our seats as it seemed our tickets had been sold twice. As I was already in the wheelchair space when this happened I just told them repeatedly that I had tickets for those seats and they found the other person somewhere else to sit. My suspicion is that our tickets were actually the wrong ones as the weird numbering of the wheelchair seating made little sense and the guy who took my booking seemed confused. But as none of the staff helping the other person actually asked to see my tickets we’ll never know. The other person was using crutches but not a chair.

The first match was the bronze medal match between Georgia and The Netherlands.  It was a best of three sets match and only two sets were played.  It made it very quick and I didn’t remember it being that quick during the paras so I was a bit confused. But then I figured out they were playing fewer sets than we’d seen during the paras.  I was a bit frustrated when it ended after only 40 minutes because I felt like I’d not had a chance to get into it properly and then it finished. The Netherlands won that.

In between the matches and in the breaks between sets they had all the audience doing mexican waves and slo mo waves which are always fun.  They also did this “invictus” cam thing where if you appeared on the screens you have to do a set task.  They did it three times and it was pretty funny. I was torn with the later ones which involved having to stand and do a task at being annoyed by the ableism in that request and the “encouragement” when people didn’t and cracking up laughing, especially when they got little kids who looked so proud to stand up and salute the camera and big burly army guys to stand and wiggle their bum at the camera.  I’m pretty sure they deliberately didn’t aim the cameras at the rows with wheelchair and transfer seats in though.

The second match was USA v UK and was a five set match.  I got much more into that one and really enjoyed it.  Three sets of that led to a decisive UK victory for the Gold but I must admit during the last set I was sort of hoping the USA team would take that one so the match would go to a 4th set.  The whole place literally exploded with noise when they announced match point and then seconds later we took the gold.

Prince Harry was there watching and he was in the section almost exactly opposite where we were. They kept showing him on the camera doing the mexican waves and it took us a while to figure out that must be where he was.  A bit later they were setting up for the medal ceremony and showing random people on the screen.  They caught him but he didn’t notice because he was taking a pic or videoing on his phone. Everyone was cheering and laughing at that and he looked up to see and realised he was on the screen and grinned a bit.  He seemed like a good sport but of course it could be an act.

After the medal ceremony we went into Westfield (the shopping centre right by the Olympic park) for the loo and food.  We got the tube back to Southwark because they’d said they didn’t think the lift would be fixed at Waterloo when we left there that morning and then I got the train home and Eleanor went to get the bus home to Oxford.

All in all a very long but fun day.

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