Ok, so here is my first diary entry from right here in Sochi. Although ironically it also comes from our last full day in the 2014 winter paralympic venue. But what a venue it has been!
I was lucky enough to be part of the Paralympic Post journalism team in London and so after experiencing those fantastic games I approached these games with some considerable anticipation.. How would the athletes be treated? How would we (as memebers of the foreign media) be treated? And perhaps most importantly what would the people of Sochi (and Russia as a whole) make of the Games and the Paralympic movement?
Well I am delighted to say that my fears were left completely unrealised. The athletes were treated like the heroes they are whilst we were welcomed wherever we went, so much so that the volunteers 'scenic' directions and the numerous long bus rides did little to dampen our spirits. Furthermore Sochi also seemed to actively embrace all aspects of the games. From the controversial Olympic lanes to the adapted bus' it is clear that considerable efforts have been put into increasing the cities accessibility. Although as my colleague Jonas Wengert and I found in our text 'First Steps to Accessibility' (which appeared in the first edition of the international paper Paralympic Post) these attempts have not always have fully thought through; with ramps often leading to a large step for example. So whilst the old British phrase 'its the thought that counts' has some relavance I doubt that it is any concillation to a wheelchair user unable to get up the steps to cross the road to the suermarket.
However I have absolutely loved my time here in Sochi with the Paralympics Post both as a journalist and also being in the priviledged postition of watching some of the world's elite athletes compete against each other. Unfortunately I could not use that phrase to descibe our table tennis abilites in our daily evening matches although, like Sochi's quest for complte accessibility, at least we tried.
So spasibo Sochi, and see you in Rio!