Ipswich pupils tell of their Paralympic experiences
Katie Walden, Chelsea Dann and Veronique Hack won’t be names that trip off the tongue when this summer’s glorious Olympic and Paralympic Games are looked back on in years to come.
However, the former Westbourne College trio played their part in some of the most historic races witnessed at the Olympic Stadium, as South African Oscar Pistorius and Team GB duo Hannah Cockcroft and David Weir secured gold medals in the 400m (T44), 200M (T34) and 1500m (T54) respectively.
Katie carried the kit of “Blade Runner” Pistorius onto the track, while Chelsea had the honour of being the kit carrier for Weir, who won four gold medals.
Veronique escorted Cockroft to the track prior to her win and was one of ten pupils that played a part as Field of Play team members.
“It was an amazing experience,” said Westbourne Sports College PE teacher and Primary Team Leader, Stuart Moore.
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“It was pretty full-on and the stadium provided an amazing atmosphere which is hard to explain.
“It was like being in a bubble and the noise built around the stadium bowl until it reached a crescendo.”
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The likes of Cockroft, Weir and sprinter, Jonnie Peacock, lifted the Paralympics’ profile to new heights and Moore said their performances had left a legacy.
“The students loved it and I think they have a new appreciation of disabled sport and how good athletes, such as Jonnie Peacock, really are,” he explained.
The Field of Play team members: Kieran Mullan, Samm Turner, Danielle Ryder, Simon Vale, Katie Walden, Chennell Clarke, Chelsea Dann, Reuben Elsom, Ella Flack, Veronique Hack.
n Two students from Suffolk One College were also part of the Paralympics.
Nathan Crowe and Matthew Stone worked five shifts at the London Aquatics Centre, distributing the results of the races to various departments.
“The students were buzzing afterwards,” said Assistant SEN manager Ian Wray.
“It was nice to give an exampleto the students about how they can be involved in sport and such events as the Olympics.”
They took part in fundraising for their transport to the events.
Chelsea Dann: “The experience was amazing. I carried David Weir’s kit for him and you could tell that he was a bit nervous about his race before the event.
“After he won, he came back round to wave to the crowd and smiled and said thank-you to me.
“When we got there (to Stratford), after so much travelling, we were quite drained but once we arrived at the stadium that was all forgotten.
“The whole crowd were cheering for the us as we entered the track and it made me feel privileged to be there.
“Our jobs were pretty straightforward and we had practiced our tasks so we were ready to go. There were a few nerves the first time as we did not want to mess up.
“Sometimes, after finishing our tasks, we would have to stand in the stadium for the medal ceremonies and we were lucky enough to watch a Great British gold medal ceremony. The stadium whole stadium was shaking!”
Katie Walden: “My Paralympics experience was phenomenal.
“I have quite a few highlights of the Games, from walking out onto the track in front of 80,000 people to being the kit carrier for Oscar Pistorius.
“I was standing behind Oscar prior to his race and he turned and smiled at me and said thank-you.
“It was amazing, even though he was in “the zone”, that he took the time to acknowledge me. Then, when he won, I was nearly crying, it was amazing.
“Another highlight was when I met Jonnie Peacock.
“He was running around the track congratulating the other medalists and when he saw us he approached and asked to have some pictures taken.
“We had some group pictures and some individual ones and at one point, he was apologising to us about the state of his hair!
“I did not give much thought to the Paralympics before going to London but it has motivated me to try and achieve the goals I want to reach in my life.”
Veronique Hack: “The whole experience was amazing; the Thursday night in the stadium was magnificent.
“Carrying the kit box for Hannah Cockcroft and seeing her win gold medal. Hearing the crowd cheering her on thought out her race and hearing the crowd when Hannah got her gold medal erupt into this wall of noise is something that I will never forget.
“I have never felt so proud to be British as on that night when David Weir and Jonnie Peacock also got their gold medals, hearing the crowd singing the national anthem with such enthusiasm and pride.
“I have never experienced such friendliness from complete strangers. As we left the stadium on the Saturday night, complete strangers where giving us high fives thanking us for giving up our time to be young games makers.
“Being a young Games Maker has been the experience of a lifetime that can never be repeated, but I hope to go onto inspire a generations as I’m going level 3 Sport at Suffolk New College and intend to have a career in sport, hopefully working with people with disability and encouraging them to reach their full potential .