We are back again with Games fever as the first day of the Paralympics kicked off. I have never been interested in the Paralympics before, or even taken the time to watch them, because they happened in other countries, they were hardly promoted and were screened at awkward times. Being held in Britain, the Games carried a new focus of attention for us with the hype around it, the easy accessibility to it, and the public support of it. We are all getting a new sense of perspective on disability.
Altogether, 28 Gold medals were decided on this first day and the athletes got stuck in with a determination and resilience that was both amazing and inspirational to see. Sometimes it was hard for the brain to comprehend that each of these eager participants were not fully able bodied but had something which impaired them, like one of the winning cyclists who looked so able bodied when he was riding around the track, so 'normal', nothing seemingly unusual. Until one looked closer, and realised that he was riding with such confidence and professional aplomb with only one arm AND one leg! It was just beyond belief. One cannot help but have supreme admiration for these special heroes who are going to lengths to prove their own ability to themselves and their peers.
The Chinese Teams, having topped the medal tables in 2008 in Beijing, began as they meant to go on. They took three Swimming titles, two Track Cycling Golds and one in Shooting, and ended this first day with an amazing 15 medals in total. The Chinese stars of the day were Zheng Tao and Lu Dong who set new world records in the men's and women's 100m Backstroke - S6, respectively, while Du Jianping secured the men's 50m Breaststroke - SB2 crown. The Chinese gold rush had begun earlier in the day by shooter Zhang Cuiping, who took the honours with a new world record in the women's R2-10m Air Rifle Standing - SH1, the first medal event of the Games.
Elsewhere among the action, the spectacular Goalball competition kicked off the Paralympic Games in the Olympic Park as Lithuania set the standard with a convincing victory over Britain. Swimming also dominated the day with at least 14 Gold medals being fought for. One of the pioneers of Paralympic sport, South African swimmer Natalie du Toit, who will leave active competition after London, won her 11th gold medal with a third Games victory in the 100m Butterfly - S9. Seven-times Paralympic gold medallist Jessica Long of the USA did not disappoint ether, as she secured a Gold medal in her final.
For the host country, Paralympic Team GB's Jonathan Fox won the 100m Backstroke - S7, while Sarah Storey completed the double Gold medal win for Britain by winning her Individual C5 Cycling Pursuit in the Velodrome. Nigeria's Yakubu Adesokan also clinched Powerlifting Gold at the ExCeL arena in style. The 33-year-old, competing in the -48kg class, broke his own world record with a lift of 178kg and then repeated the world record breaking feat some minutes later, with a 180kg lift.
A most inspirational start to these Paralympic Games, which can only get better as the Track & Field begins on Day 2.
28 Gold medals were awarded in the following 5 sports:
Cycling (Track) (5)
Sini ZENG, China; Susan POWELL, Australia; Sarah STOREY, Great Britain; Kieran MODRA, Australia; LI Zhang Yu, China
Ramin IBRAHIMOV, Azerbaijan; Davyd KHORAVA, Ukraine; Ramona BRUSSIG, Germany; Carmen BRUSSIG, Germany
Yakubu ADESOKAN, Nigeria; Nasmiye MUSLU, Turkey
Cuiping ZHANG, China; Seakyun PARK, South Korea
Tao ZHENG, China; Dong LU, China; Sergey PUNKO, Russian Federation; Oxana SAVCHENKO, Russian Federation; Charles ROZOY, France; Jessica LONG, USA; Jonathan FOX, Great Britain; Jacqueline FRENEY, Australia; Tamas SORS, Hungary; Natalie du TOIT, South Africa; Benoit HUOT, Canada; Sophie PASCOE, Australia; Daniel DIAS, Brazil; Natalia PROLOGAIEVA, Ujraine; Jianping DU, China
2012 PARALYMPIC GAMES MEDAL LEADERS (Day 1)
(23 countries - 14% of all teams competing - shared the 28 Gold medals available)
1. China (15 Total - 6Gold, 6Silver, 3Bronze)
2. Australia (10 - 4Gold, 3Silver, 3Bronze)
3. Great Britain (8 - 4Gold, 2Silver, 2Bronze)
4. Ukraine (8 - 2Gold, 2Silver, 4Bronze)
5. Germany (6 - 2Gold, 2Silver 2Bronze)
GREAT BRITAIN has started off in a good position to hopefully lead in the medals later on, while the USA has yet to reach the top 10!
Day 2 Activity to be Enjoyed (14 sporting events)
Athletics (Gold Medal Event)
Cycling (Track) (Gold Medal)
Judo (Gold Medal)
Powerlifting (Gold Medal)
Shooting (Gold Medal)
Swimming (Gold Medal)
Stars who could shine again on Day 2
South Africa's Athletics competitor Fanie van der Merwe, who won gold in the T37 100 and 200m at the Beijing 2008 Games.
David Weir and Shelly Woods, in the opening rounds of the men's and women's T54 5000m.
At the Aquatics Centre, South African Natalie du Toit will be going for glory in the women's 100m Backstroke - S9, while brothers Sam and Ollie Hynd take on each other and the rest of the world in the 400m Freestyle - S8.
The Games' most successful male athlete, Swedish shooter, Jonas Jakobsson, is aiming to add to his record 28 medals.
Egypt's world and Paralympic Powerlifting champion Sherif Othman will be in action in the men's -56kg class.
London2012.com (For round up and great pictures)
Paralympic.org (for live stream videos, athletes bios, results and all the relevant information)