During the Olympic Games, we received Tokyo diaries from Jon Austin, Toby Penty and Julian Robertson, who each gave us an insight into life inside the Olympic bubble.
With attention now switching to the Paralympics, which begins on Tuesday, we caught up with the para-badminton team leader Mark Beecher as the sport prepares to make its Paralympic debut.
Keep across our channels for more Tokyo diaries from inside the Games over the coming weeks!
I arrived at Heathrow to a warm welcome by the support team and saw some familiar faces from other sports, like the women’s wheelchair basketball and judo teams, on my flight.
After the necessary checks for Covid protocols, I was taken through to the Paralympic GB lounge provide by British Airways which ensured we maintained our protective bubble as much as possible.
On arrival at Haneda, the volunteers guided us and welcomed us to Tokyo which was so heart-warming. I must have bowed at least 50 to 60 times when replying ‘konnichi wa’ or ‘arigato’ to thank them for their kind welcome!
We transferred to Keio University, where we are having our holding camp, and they were also very welcoming and supportive to all the Paralympic GB teams staying here prior to going into the Paralympic village.
Weightlifting, rowing, taekwondo and judo are also here at the moment but the first two of those sports are leaving over the next couple of days so the facilities, for the majority of time, will be solely for our use.
It has been great to be talking all things sport and prep with the different Paralympic teams and getting greater understandings of their respective sports and how approaching the games.
Keio is such a relaxed environment which has helped final prep and now the badminton athletes have arrived, they’ve really felt that too.
They have even catered for my coffee needs, with a Nespresso machine and welcome pods!
Keio University is a great place for us to have our holding camp. Last time I was here on the pre-Games recce, the Hiyoshi Commemorative Hall was still a building site.
Now, it’s a fabulous building, not just from its imposing outside as you can first see it when you’re walking up the hill – it sits majestically overlooking the campus – but within too.
It has a 4,500-seater facility that is adaptable to all its sporting requirements with all the ancillary items one would expect from such a modern sporting provision.
The impact of the pandemic as well as the restrictions on times that we can access official training and village presence has meant we’ve had to make alterations to our original plans.
Our original intention was to fly into Japan and stay three days in Yokohama for three days recovery and jet lag management, before moving to the Paralympic village and use the official training facilities at the Bunkyo Sports Centre.
This has now changed to where we are now, which has allowed us to enhance our preparation opportunities by combining our jet lag recovery and pre-Games training at the one venue.
It allows us to have a week of training in our own ‘bubble environment’ prior to entering the Paralympic village on the 28th.
The team have just arrived today, and it’s been so smooth for them at Heathrow. British Airways staff got them through very quickly and took them straight through to the lounge, so it protects the Covid bubble.
We are confident, but not an arrogant confident. Each player believes in themselves and they are certainly ready for the Paralympic Games. They’re all bubbling and it’s just ‘wow – this is the Paralympics’. This is it.