I was at the Paralympic Games a week last Sunday. Here’s the picture of me at the ExCel Centre. I was there, courtesy of a friend (Craig Beaumont) who got tickets, for the table-tennis. The atmosphere, as throughout the Games, was remarkable. It was not just British competitors getting a great cheer, but a number of national competitor had a large body of supporters.
I was present for matches for medallists. The matches are much shorter than in my day: it used to be the best of 21 points whereas now it is the best of 11. All the matches were close, which was good for the audience. One abiding memory was of a young Thai player. He won the gold after a close contest with a Spanish player. Once he played the winning shot and realised he had won the gold medal, he knocked over the barrier as he jumped to embrace his coach; he then grabbed a picture of the Thai king and draped himself in the Thai flag to have his picture taken, before doing a lap of honour. I see Thailand gained other gold medals at the Paralympics, so I don’t know if other Thai competitors did the same or if this player has the distinction of being the only player who was pictured holding a picture of his monarch.