I had the naive idea, no make that I had a pocketful of naïve ideas with me as I embarked on my yellow brick road initiation into reporter-hood during the London 2012 Paralympic Games. Sample this, when I first eyed the 3000 docking stations for computers in the Main Press Centre, MPC, I thought the Internet would be FREE, silly me. Or I imagined ALL
reporters got ALL
the information. No that gift was reserved for the National Paralympic Committee’s, NPC and there was reporter dress code I most definitely slipped into, no runners please! Yes, there was more but I won’t bore you with all my gaffes, rather I’ll recall my daily beat genesis.
The Summer Paralympics had 20 sports with 503 events, so with Sam’s warning, “don’t try to get to every event” ringing in my head I nervously entered my first press conference two days prior to opening ceremonies. I was early, absolutely psyched up to be there, go to as many events as I could; share all of it. Watching as the world’s journalists entered the large press amphitheater seemingly dragging their feet, I thought, really, they’re not jacked up to be here or ready to hot foot it out and write-up the Games?
From a newspaper I discovered, that most of the Press didn’t believe Paralympic sport could be exciting, engaging, thrilling or competitive and surely not even close to the brilliance the Olympics had been. They carried old perceptions and biases associated with disabilities distastefulness that weighted them down. Only a few journalists among the many had any experience with adaptive sport and they were clearly over shadowed on that first day. Most of the press thought no audience would be even paying attention let alone reading what they wrote, not very uplifting thoughts!! But the professionals that they are persevered and were rewarded with the largest following in Paralympic media history. They departed the Games changed, hungry for more.
After the press conference I immediately pushed the blaring warning sounds out of my head determined to clone myself, I wanted to be everywhere!! I marched over to the transportation office to investigate a pilgrimage the next day to Stoke Mandeville, the spiritual birthplace of the Paralympic Games and the starting point for the Paralympic Torch Relay. I so wanted to be there, but there wasn’t any transportation to Stoke Mandeville arranged for the journalists and journey of 3 hours by buses, trains and taxis, one way, pulled the plug on that science experiment. I let the warning sounds back in with the volume turned down low to keep me grounded.
The following night in my warm room with the television keeping me informed of the Paralympic Flames delivery from the four corners highest peaks of the United Kingdom and it’s departure into the rainy streets of London I spread out my resources. My bed was piled with the MPC complimentary maps, magazines, schedules, books and papers I shuffled into order for each of the twelve days ahead. It began to dawn on me that I must devise a morning routine that I would adhere to faithfully.
This routine would keep me sane within the chaos of a too much to do Paralympic Games along with the not knowing sudden changes of the media marathon. A readiness to jump at a moments notice, switch gears to speed off in a new direction, then wait sometimes hours for the story verification or interview only then at the ninth hour have it reschedule for another day or disappear into thin air and I was left holding nothing. With this early realization of uncertainty I abandoned my plan to follow any athletes during the Games, we couldn’t connect, our time was not our own.
My morning routine would be the only sure thing giving me balance in a whirling world. I rose at 5am after five or less hours sleep, drank two glasses of water and meditated forty-five minutes. Next I turned on the telly, booted up my computer while preparing my breakfast of granola, yogurt, banana, smoked salmon, almonds, cheese, vitamins and strong English black tea. I was doomed to eating on the fly day and night, this meal I would control. My rucksack was packed with nuts, seeds, fruit and food bars making lunch and dinner a wasteland of snacks.
Checking the weather I dressed and packed my rucksack with a jacket, hat, recorder, notebook, pencil, wallet, daily stuff to review, oyster card (my all inclusive train pass) bus timetable for the MPC, 2 inch thick media handbook for all Paralympic sports with their competition scheduled timetables, venue maps, mix zones and media hang outs. Settled with my crankles (cranky edema ankles) up I wrote for the next two hours. By 9:30 with my computer packed I grabbed my credential hanging on the door and wheeled out into daily hypothetical plan starting with the MPC, wishing there were three of me.
Blessings to All, In Joy Candace Cable
© 2012 Candace Cable
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