On Tuesday we were kindly invited to attend the IPC Athletics European Championships in Swansea by Sainsbury. We’ve not had the chance to attend a sporting event before and as the boys had thoroughly enjoyed watching Commonwealth Games in Glasgow a few weeks ago I knew that they would enjoy the IPC Championships.
We stayed with Grandma near Cardiff on Monday night after spending the day in Cardiff so it seemed to make sense to travel to Swansea from there instead of home. The home for the championships is the Swansea University International Sports Village which is located across the road from Singleton Hospital and a stones throw from Swansea University. We followed the directions given on the Paralympic website under spectator information for Swansea 2014 and found the journey in from the M4 very straight forward. I decided that as I would have the four children on my own it would be wise to head for the parking at St Helen’s recreational ground which is a short (ten minute walk) to the venue. We found the car parking easily and the attendant was very helpful with pointing us in the right direction. With Erin in the stroller and snacks in hand we headed off to find the venue. We did take a wrong turn and ended up at the university but once directions checked with the security guard we continued on our way. We had literally turned right one turn too early.
We had hoped to arrive in time to see the first events start at 9am however it was actually 9.35am by the time we arrived partly due to traffic on the M4 and the slight detour from the car park. We were meet by Debbie from Sainsbury who gave us each a guest pass and took us on a quick tour of the sports village to show us where we could find the toilets etc. We had the chance for a drink and a biscuit and meet up with the lovely Evanscrittens family who were also attending. Debbie showed us to the reserved seating where we were to sit and watch the events. We were also given some flags and clackers to make some noise and cheer the athletes on while they competed ( these were a big hit with all the children). We arranged to meet Debbie after lunch and settled down to watch the events.
We were kindly given a program by one of the volunteers and we spent some time looking at the program of events for the morning. There was lots of activity in different areas of the stadium and there was a lot of spectators sitting around the grandstands which was great to see.
The IPC Athletics European Championships is being held this week from the 18th to the 23rd August 2014 and will see around 560 athletes from 39 countries across Europe competing.
We were seated towards the right hand side of the main grandstand and had a good view of the whole stadium with the track events starting nearest to us. There was a big screen within easy viewing distance which helped when trying to see events at the far side of the stadium and also the medal ceremonies.
We all quickly became absorbed into the action and started cheering on the athletes. Even Erin joined in and thoroughly enjoyed cheering and a little dance when music was played over the sound system.
Luc was very taken with the shot put, discus and javelin events and spent a lot of time watching the action on that area of the stadium. I tried to follow several of the events but the track events kept drawing me back. I managed to capture some of the events too. The medal ceremonies happened on a regular basis which was helpful as meant we could keep track of the different events. After the medal ceremonies we managed to catch a glimpse of some of the medalists on their way back to their team mates and had the catch to congratulate as they passed.
After almost two hours in the grandstand watching the events the children started getting a bit restless so I decided it was time to head to the refreshment tent where we had access for the morning. On our way we stopped to watch some long jump, the boys were fascinated to watch a couple of the athletes who had guides as they were visually impaired, I explained that their guides were giving them instructions on where to run and then take the jump by the different sounds they made, it was fascinating to watch.
At the refreshment tent we were able to catch up with the Evans Crittens Family and have a sandwich and drink. We then moved to sit outside to let the children all run around together and visit the toilet.
Then at 1pm Debbie came to find us and she had Dan Greaves who won a Gold Medal at the Commonwealth Games in Glasgow in the F42/44 Discus. Dan is also one of 51 athletes forming the 51 strong Great Britain and Northern Ireland Team for the IPC Athletics European Championships.
Dan was really nice and signed some of the flags and clackers the children had for them. He spent some time chatting with us about the discus and the IPC championships. Rowan was really funny and decided he wanted to sign one of the flags himself which made everyone laugh!. Dan then very kindly posed for a photograph with my three boys and Danny from EvansCrittens. Before Dan Greaves returned to his training we wished him well for his event which is tomorrow (Friday 22nd August 2014).
.It was a great end to a really lovely morning. We could have stayed for the afternoon session but I wasn’t sure how the younger two would cope with it so we decided to head back to the car. We thanked Debbie and her colleague Dan for a very enjoyable morning and made our way back to the car along with the Evans Crittens family.
There are still a couple of days left of the IPC Athletics European Championships and there are tickets available at really reasonable prices. So if you fancy popping along why not take a look at the Swansea 2014 website here it really is a fantastic opportunity to watch some incredible athletes competing.
We would like to thank Sainsbury for inviting us to attend and would like to wish all those athletes who are competing over the next few days the best of luck.