Paralympics Diary : And so it begins

The first day at Rio 2016: Meeting Natalia Partyka might've been the greatest experience of my life. The Games have begun. And now we're part of it.

Hugo L'Abbate
PZ-Reporter Hugo L'Abbate (l) und David Hock im Gespräch mit Brasiliens Goldmedaillengewinner Daniel Dias.
PZ-Reporter Hugo L'Abbate (l) und David Hock im Gespräch mit Brasiliens Goldmedaillengewinner Daniel Dias.Foto: Privat

Backpack? Check. Team shirt? Check. Accreditations? Check. Cellphones? Check. After enjoying an unforgettable night at the Opening Ceremony, the D-day has finally arrived for the young journalists of the Paralympics Zeitung. Now each one of them must find their way to their own sporting venues - always trying to be on schedule.

Tillmann Bauer, Julian Hilgers and I were the first ones to leave the hostel this Thursday, at 7am. Despite all the carefulness concerning the time, we took more than 2 hours to get to our destinations. Julian was able to take a bus to the Velodrome, while Tillmann and I had to move ourselves and get to the table tennis competitions, at Riocentro, on foot.

Despite the lack of information and the confusing directions given by some volunteers, most of which couldn't speak English or German, we got there and we were ready.

In the morning Tillmann talked to a local hero of Baden-Württemberg, the table tennis player Juliane Wolf. After the lunch pause, it was my turn.

After 8 years watching her on television, Natalia Partyka, one of my greatest idols, was standing right before me. She will fight for her fourth consecutive gold medal at the Paralympic Games and I'll be able to report and watch it closely. I can only say that it might've been the greatest experience of my life - both professionally and personally.

But our first day of competitions wasn't over just yet. In the evening, many of us set the Aquatics Center as our meeting point. The reason, of course, was the Brazilian swimming legend Daniel Dias, who earned one more gold medal to his great collection. Now he has 11 of them (and still counting).

On Wednesday most of the young journalists had written "Let the Games begin" as a subtitle for the photos they'd taken. The Games have begun. And now we're part of it.

Rio 2016: Porträts der Redakteure

Porträts Wer berichtet für den Tagesspiegel von den Paralympics 2016 in Rio de Janeiro? Die Porträts der Redakteure finden Sie hier.