This evening (August 29th 2012) the torch will be lit to welcome the start of the London Paralympic Games in the magnificent setting of the Olympic Stadium, and Sands Beach Resort will be glued to TV screens to watch two of its family – superb athletes and friends Rafa Botello and Marieke Vervoort – as they strive to honour their countries and their paralympic peers.
The paralympic games officially began in Rome in 1960 but in fact, the concept of sports for athletes with a disability began in London after the Second World War when German neurologist Dr Ludwig Guttmann introduced sport to the rehabilitation regime at Stoke Mandeville Hospital for patients with spinal injuries. On the day of the Opening Ceremony of the London Olympics games in 1948, Dr Guttmann held an archery competition for wheelchair users, and the Stoke Mandeville Games began. As the games gre bigger and athletes from abroad began to compete, the competition morphed into the International Stoke Mandeville Games and eventually, the Paralympic Games of 1960.
Like all athletes, for Rafa Botello and Marieke Vervoort, the games represent the pinnacle of their careers. For those of us watching and vicariously sharing every metre with them, here are their schedules to note in the diary:
Rafa will be competing in the Men’s 5000 metres race – first heat 31st August, 7.15pm; final 2nd September, 9.49pm and then in the Men’s Marathon, 9th September at 8am.
Fresh from her triumphs at the Belgium Championships in the T52 class where she broke three European records at 100, 200 and 400 metres, Marieke Vervoort will be competing in the Women’s 200 metres race – first heat 1st September, 10.53am; final 1st September, 7.55pm and then in the Women’s 100 metres race – first heat 5th September, 12.36pm; final 5th September at 9.07pm.
Continuing a gruelling schedule of athletic competition this summer, Rafa Botello will be heading to Berga in mainland Spain with Sands Beach Active and Ladi Demko of Sailfish for the Sailfish half Triathlon on September 16th. As one of the sponsors of the event, we are giving prizes of holidays at Sands Beach Resort to the male and female winners of the race.
Then before the month is out, we’ll be in Germany for the BMW Berlin Marathon at the end of September, where once again Rafa Botello will be competing in Team Sands Beach, along with Norberto Chavez y Alain Fuentes. Our own Juan Carlos Albuixech, Director of Sands Beach Resort, will be there to support the team.
All in all, September is shaping up to be a pretty hectic month for Sands Beach Active, but for now, our hearts and minds are with Rafa and Marieke – vamos!