My Paralympic inspiration

It was this time last year that London 2012 began its Paralympic legacy, with record crowds coming together for an inspiring two weeks of sport. Olympic fever had swept the nation and sporting fans were all hoping that the Paralympics would continue the party.

The Paralympics more than delivered. I visited the Olympic stadium on “Thrilling Thursday” and witnessed an unparalleled sporting atmosphere. It was electric. (Read the article here)

This was just one night amongst a fortnight of incredible stories. However, Alex Zanardi’s victory in the handcycling at Brands Hatch was one of the great moments of the games. The Italian’s story is made for a Hollywood script. His life journey has been epic and courageous but at last year’s Paralympics, his sporting journey reached its pinnacle.

Zanardi raced in the world of motorsport for a decade. He was a charming character, respected by his peers during his brief spells in Formula One and, in CART racing, Zanardi proved himself to be a winner. His “donut” celebrations became infamous with fans across America.

It was in 2001 that he experienced the devastating crash that resulted in both of his legs being amputated. The charismatic Italian almost lost his life but has never let that accident thwart his love of racing. He helped to design his own custom-made prosthetic legs so that he could return to the track. His positivity and determination never waivered and, in 2006, he won his first race since his crash in the World Touring Car Championship.

Zanardi’s handcycling career began in 2007, when after only a few weeks of training he raced his first marathon in New York and finished in fourth place. It was soon after that he continued to cycle and made the London 2012 Paralympics his target.

Fast forward to 2012 and Zanardi returned to Brands Hatch looking for Paralympic glory. The setting was perfect, the Italian had raced before at Brands Hatch, but never won a race in his car. Returning to the famous motorsport circuit in his handcycle, he won the hearts of the nation as he claimed gold in both the individual H4 time trial and the individual H4 road race in emphatic style. With his handcycle waived high above his head and joyful tears streaming down his face, the Italian’s emotional post-race interviews and celebrations encompassed the spirit of London 2012.

What makes the buoyant Zanardi stand out from the crowd is his unrivalled determination to succeed in sport. His next goal is to win more medals at the 2013 UCI Para-cycling Road World Championships this weekend. At 47, he is adamant that Rio 2016 is his next target, and nobody should doubt him.

Play with Flair’s Sports Personality of the Year

Last night’s Sports Personality of the Year awards showed why 2012 has been a year that will long live in the memory. The huge success of Team GB at the Olympics and Paralympics rightly took centre stage as it was a summer that the British public will never forget.

It was a remarkable show, in stark contrast to the controversial ceremony that took place last year. The whole event was completely inspirational, especially as Martine Wright, who survived the London 7/7 bombings to play sitting volleyball at the Paralympics, told of her struggle to compete as she won the Helen Rollason award.

Bradley Wiggins, the 2012 Sports Personality of the Year. Source: alittlebitofstone.com

Bradley Wiggins, the 2012 Sports Personality of the Year.
Source: alittlebitofstone.com

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London 2012: Olympic moments

Ryan Lochte with his 400m Individual Medley Gold.
Source: news-journalonline.com

It is hard to believe that London 2012 has already had two full days of Olympic competition and the special memories are already being made. Here are my personal favourites so far: Archery The Italian men’s team recorded a dramatic … Continue reading

Olympic Glory: Abebe Bikila

Abebe Bikila winning in Rome 1960
Source: ethiozoo.com

Friday 27th July 2012. A date to remember. It has been a fifty-four year wait for London and now the Olympic opening ceremony is only hours away; the world waits in anticipation for the greatest sporting spectacle of all. If … Continue reading

The men’s 100m at London 2012

Usain Bolt loses out to Yohan Blake at Jamaican Olympic Trials
Source: sport-enews.com

Usain Bolt’s failure to win both the 100m and 200m finals at the Jamaican Olympic trials last week has become a major talking point in world athletics. The hero of the 2008 Beijing Olympics was completely outclassed by his Jamaican teammate … Continue reading

French Open reaches fever pitch

Since my last post, the French Open 2012 has already provided us with unbelievable matches and plenty of splendid displays from the tennis elite.

In the women’s draw, the biggest shock was the exit of Serena Williams in the first round. Since entering her first Grand Slam event in 1998, she had never lost at this stage in a major tournament. Virginie Razzano, the French number four, completed this astonishing victory after eight match points in an incredible 25-minute final game.

After my comments on Monday, saying that Maria Sharapova’s biggest obstacle in winning the career slam is Serena Williams; it should follow that Sharapova is now the outright favourite. If her first round demolition of Alexandra Cadantu, which ended in a 6-0 6-0 scoreline, is replicated on Friday then this must be the case.

Virginie Razzano knocks Serena Williams out in the first round at the French Open.
Source: dailytelegraph.au

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LIVE EVENT: Hockey Final at the Olympic Park

Jonty Clarke, Harry Martin and  Nick Catlin of Team GB sign autographs after the match.

Last Sunday, I visited the Riverbank Arena at the Olympic Park to watch the Visa International Invitational Hockey Tournament. Even though the cold temperatures made the test event feel more a part of the Winter Olympics, there were still two men’s hockey matches to look … Continue reading