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Thumbs up for first Paralympic test event

School Reporters Amelia, Courtney and George with former pupil from their school, GB Goalball star Georgina Bullen
GB goalball star Georgina Bullen used to go to the same school as young reporters Amelia, Courtney and George

By School Reporters Amelia, Courtney and George
From Melbourn Village College, Hertfordshire

On Sunday 4 December, three Year 9 students from Melbourn Village College travelled to London to report on the goalball international competition - the first 2012 Paralympic test event at the Olympic Park.

Competing in the tournament were current European champions Great Britain, Olympic champions the United States and world champions China, as well as other top international women's teams, Canada and Sweden.

We spoke to the 2012 director of Paralympic integration, Chris Holmes, who told us the test event was a fantastic way to find out how the athletes will experience the new stadium.

He said it was also to try out the building's facilities, as well as timing and staffing.

Backstage action

Chris told us that 80% of the work takes place behind the scenes: "The offices, meeting spaces, control centres, transport operations - all are absolutely crucial and it's really key to get all these spot on."

School Reporters interview 2012 Director of Paralympic Integration backstage at the event
School Reporters interview 2012 Director of Paralympic Integration backstage at the test event

He also said he thought the event had gone really well: "It has been an excellent weekend. Very impressive, it ran very smoothly and everybody is very positive and very happy."

In terms of the competitors taking part in the goalball tournament, Team GB were the youngest team competing and are all part-time players. In contrast many of the older, more experienced opponents, like China and Canada, play professionally.

Despite this, Great Britain's girls did brilliantly and came closest of all the teams competing to almost beating China losing only 1-0.

Player's perspective

In our interview with Georgina Bullen, a former student at Melbourn Village College, we got a player's perspective on the new stadium, the teams and the event.

She told us she loved the arena: "It's great, isn't it? From the outside it looked a bit dull but when you get inside it's amazing."

But it also held some surprises as Georgie explained how the court floor was "less slippy than we are used to" and so they had to get used to playing on it and with a new ball which "had more bumps on it and so hurt more!"

Courtside at the Goalball test event
Students tested out a selection of seats around the Handball Arena during matches!

When we asked her about how she felt the tournament had gone for the GB team she said "it has been a real learning curve for all of us... there haven't been any games we've had that haven't been close and haven't been exciting. It shows us where we could be in a year."

She also told us how many of the international players from different teams get on well off the court.

"It is always amazing to get positive quotes from the top players in the world when you come off the court," she added.

Paralympic dreams

Georgie and her team-mates now have to wait to find out whether they will be competing in the 2012 Paralympics. They will find out in March. We have our fingers crossed for Team GB - as Georgia said: "In the end I want to get to the Paralympics."

So, the event went smoothly and it was a great indicator of how exciting the Paralympics will be in 10 months' time.

It was daunting for us at first, but getting the opportunity to work alongside experienced reporters and getting access to the athletes and senior officials was good.

It makes us feel excited about the events in 2012 and we were really pleased to have this opportunity to be some of the first people to see (and report on) a Paralympic event in the Olympic Park.

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