James Omerod

March 2023 International Abilympics

From thinking about being a participant in the Abilympics to actually getting on a plane to France was quick. I just went with the flow and I didn’t think about planning anything until the month before my flight.

The months, weeks and days leading to my flight to Dubai went very fast. We all met up at the airport. My brother dropped me off, as I was thinking of catching the train from home to the airport.

It was good to see Sue our travel agent at the airport to see us off and to make sure it was a smooth transition for 8 wheelchairs to get on the plane.

The flight to Dubai was O.K, I watched 3 and ½ movies and not much turbulence.

I suppose it was a good idea to sleep over after a 10 hour flight, but to have only 2 wheelchair accessible hotel rooms was a bit strange and both rooms were a bit small. There were heaps of shops at the airport.

Charles De Gaulle airport was a strange circular structure. We had a nice lady show us to our bags on travelators that were flat, then travel up a small rise.
I didn’t realise we had to fit 8 wheelchairs and 8 able bodied people on a bus for a 4 hour drive to Metz, which was North East of Paris. The fast train would have taken 90 minutes but I enjoyed the scenery as it is very rare to see so much green fields, weird looking trees and different wild life, as well as some amazing buildings.

Wednesday morning, me, Richard, Brett and Cam got picked up first on the bus and then we travelled to pick up the second Campanile group, then to the last group staying at the Ibis hotel. I think we went to the competition place then we went to the opening ceremony place. We went to the shops first then we waited to get into line at Metz Arena, then we waited to go into the main arena for the opening ceremony.

Thursday we didn’t get home until late, then we had to catch the bus by 7:15am to pick everyone up and go the Exhibition Park to look at our competition spaces. Lunch was nice and very good food. We didn’t do much, so we went to Etienne Cathedral in 3 mini vans with long ramps. The Cathedral was amazing and is called a Cathedral because of a stool called a Cathedra. It had a 42 metre high roof and amazing straight windows. We saw a protest march walk by. We had dinner at the Exhibition Park. Friday, we were up early to catch the bus at 6:45am which ended up being a 7:25am bus, because of protests.

Competition day, everyone was a bit late. The cleaners took all our recycle materials as they thought it was junk! Lunch, then roamed around the competition arenas looking at other work. Dinner, then bus back to the hotel.
Saturday was competition day 2, plus closing ceremony so we had to take dress clothes. Bus pick up at 6:45am, I think was on time.
I didn’t eat much for lunch. After my event, we had to wait for the judges to finish talking about our work. I met up with some nice ladies from Chinese Taipei and we went to get some . I caught up with the other WA people and we sat around waiting for the bus.
The bus took us to the Metz Arena for the closing ceremony. By this time it started to rain and we had to madly rush off the bus undercover. It was an interesting night. It was fantastic to see Chris get a silver medal. It wasn’t exciting as the opening ceremony.
Sunday we jumped on the bus back to Paris, saying goodbye to Elaine & Morag as they were going elsewhere. The we said goodbye to to Cam, Jean, Bob, Nadine, Brett and Richard, while me, Chris and Poss, Bryan and Danni caught the bus to the Eiffel towel.