Five-time Paralympian Steve Welch blogs from London as part of USTA.com's coverage of the 2012 Paralympic Games.
© Jeremiah Yolkut
By Steve Welch, special to USTA.com
Most Paralympians first day included a long overseas plane ride for approximately 8 to 12 hours. Fortunately I had been at a couple of warm up events, one in Austria near Vienna and the other in Brno, Czech Republic.
Upon arrival to London Heathrow airport, an army of volunteers met me to make sure that I received a warm welcome and that I knew exactly what to do. Systematically, I was whisked away with my bags to the Paralympic Village. The village is a beautiful sprawling complex where athletes and staff are bustling with preparation. Next, it was off to a meeting to learn a myriad of critical and not so critical things one needs to know while at the games including security in and around the city, where to eat and do laundry and the importance of your credential. Without the credential you can do nothing. The lady said it is even more important than your passport while you are here. Ok, a shuttle to processing waits!
At processing, we received bags and bags filled with more than 100 pieces of clothing. Most needed to be tried on to verify correct sizes. This was a daunting task but more volunteers were there to help. A nice volunteer from the air force helped the professionals tailor multiple suits for opening and closing ceremonies. All in all, this was about five hours of trying on clothes and taking team photos followed by a 90-minute wait for a shuttle to get back to the village.
A nice little reminder of the importance of the credential awaited me upon returning when I realized I’d left mine at the processing place in a bag. Luckily, Dave Schobel and some very nice people from our staff tried diligently, in the rain, to get me a new one. This was another two hours outside of the village waiting to get about 30 yards on the other side just to make another credential.
All in a full day’s work to represent the country!