Thirty three years ago today I boarded a plane to my first Paralympic Games in Seoul.
Aged sixteen and with limited experience of foreign travel let alone experience of competition at that level. I had no idea how extraordinary the experience would be, what the Games would feel like and what it would be like to compete against athletes from around the world.
Before getting anywhere near close to the competition though I had to face the, then, 20 hour flight, taking in stops in Bahrain and Jeddah. Done in by the time we landed in Seoul would be understating it.
Seoul was ground breaking, the first Paralympic Games to be held in the same city as the Olympic Games since Tokyo some twenty four years earlier. In many ways the 1988 Seoul Paralympic Games were not only my first Paralympic Games, they were also the first modern Paralympic Games.
Again, well before Paralympic competition began, we had to settle in to the Paralympic village. Mind blowing; to live, to eat, to interact with the world, in one village, the Seoul Paralympic village. I remember on day one meeting swimmers, athletes, judo players from the United States, Israel and Canada, extraordinary stuff.
When we went to the Paralympic pool for the first training session it was similarly mind blowing. The pool had hosted the Olympic Games swimming events just weeks before and now we were training in it. It was like nothing we had in the UK at that time, it was the first time I fully understood what it meant to say a pool was fast.
So, that was day one in the Paralympic village, day one training at the Paralympic pool, there was much more to come….
Seoul 1988, an amazing beginning for me, a new, modern beginning for the Paralympic Games itself.
Chris Holmes: Paralympic inspiration will be catalyst for change, Inside the Games, 28 August 2009
Paralympic Perspectives; ‘Golden history’ to ‘Paralympic classification Explained’