Charlotte Cox

Athlete and Sports Personality

Whilst the GB team headed home on the 5th, Mum and Dad wanted me to have a chance to see a little of Athens (other than an Athletics Stadium), so we stayed on, celebrated Dads birthday and I got to see the historical side of Athens.

Here are a few of my photos’s.

This evening was the closing ceremony, I can’t believe it’s been nearly 10 days since we were first in this stadium. We are all in a very happy mood and looking forward to the party atmosphere.

Everybody is wearing their medals, we are all tanned and some sun burnt, most have recovered from the bug, and now we sit it this historic stadium exchanging stories. These memories will stay with us forever.

We listened to the speeches, watched the performances, I really liked Heather Small (“What have you done today to make you feel proud”) that seemed to catch the Olympic message.

After the Closing ceremony I left the team to join the family for what would be a few days of Sightseeing in Athens. So I said farewell to Sue (one of the coaches who looked after us girls), and the team and joined the family – Holiday time!!!!

I have been so looking forward to today, having to wait so long to do my 200m has been hard, especially as most of the Athletics team have done their events – and won medals.

My 200m is at 11.40, I hadnt seen the family but I know they will be in the crowd and I am sure once the race starts I will hear Mum!. I am in lane 2 which being small gives me a slight advantage and so hopefully that will be good.

It was a fantastic race not just because I won a silver medal but more importably I got a PB with a time of 32.58seconds, Dad and Will said they have never seen me run so well. Everything went right from the start, the bend and then the final straight, I gave it my all and Bryn my coach will be really pleased with my run.

The Jamaican girl had a clear win with a time of 32.03, but the 2nd to 4th places were much tighter with 32.58 (me) 32.59 and 32.60. It went to a photo finish and fortunately for me I got 2nd – yippeeeeeee.

The 4 x 100 Relay – I led off giving the girls a really good start, then Hannah (who had won her 100M final) had a great leg, passing to Anne (who had to miss her 100m final due to injury) who mainitained the lead finally passing to Vicki (who came 2nd in the Pentathlon) brought it home to win in a time of 1:02 – We were really happy.

My longjump was at 10.00am, and as stardard you get 3 attempts. My first jump was actually my best with a season’s best of 2.75m, my second was a no jump and my third 2.54m.

My jump was enough to earn me a silver medal which I am really thrilled with and very happy, most unexpected but my coach James will be proud of me!

The winning jump was 2.90m (Venezuela) and the third place was 2.48m (Nepal).

I have done all my heats now and don’t have any more competitions until Saturday, so I have been coming to the Stadium to support the rest of the team and do some training. In the basement of the stadium is a big training area where you can train and do warm ups/cool downs in the cool.

Mum and Dad still come and see me and as I have no events I am allowed to go with them for a few hours, so I am sharing with you some of the other sports we saw:

Today saw the heats of the 200m. It was very hot (about 35 degrees C) but managed to run a season’s best of 33.21sec. I was really pleased with my race and looking forward to next round on Saturday. A large number of our team are still poorly and some are still in hospital.

Mum, Dad, Harriet, William and Connor had lots of problems getting to the Olympic stadium as the transport strike was disrupting the Special Olympics transport system and the protests in the centre of Athens meant a lot of the roads were closed and with more people taking to the roads there was a lot of congestion. This meant that a journey of 45 minutes took almost 3 hours.

My 200m Heat.

It was nice to see Harriet on her 19th birthday but strange not being able to be with the family for the evenings celebrations.

Me in the Athens Olympic Stadium.

It took the family two hours to get back to there hotel avoiding the demonstrations outside the Greek Parliament in Syntagma Square.

All the Special Olympic Volunteers have been great and even the bus drivers for the Special Olympic athletes have made sure we get to our events and we are not too distrupted by the strikes, we just have to plan extra time, this morning we were on the coach at 6.30am to get to the stadium!

It was a disappointing start to the day as we were unable to do the relay heats as we still have quite a few of the team poorly, with a tummy bug so not enough to do a relay. Our coach along with a number of the other national team coaches (who have also had squad members struck down with the tummy bug) have lodged an official challenge in the hope that we can compete in races later in the week. I did my long jump heat not one of my best jumps but hopefully I will get a better in the next round.

Mum & Dad had fun getting to the stadium in Athens there is a 48hr bus/train/tram strike, so they got a Taxi. The bus company drivers are very good to the Special Olympics teams and they are allowed to drive us, so we have not been seeing or unduly affected by the protestors, or any of the problems.

Here is a picture of me and the long jump.

Jen and Gina the real Coca Cola girls who make all the videos I have been doing were filming today, they did some of me, the family and other spectators. Here is a picture of them in front of the camera for a change (Jen on Left and Gina on the right)

Today was my first day at the Olympic Stadium it was amazing to be at such a venue. I didn’t have any events today so I was allowed to spend the morning with all my family. I hadn’t seen Mum and Dad for over a week so it was really good to see them and have a catch up.

Me outside the Athens Olympic Stadium.

We stayed at the stadium and supported the other team members, and went to see some of the other events Tennis, Basketball, Powerlifting, Swimming. Early afternoon I had to leave the stadium to get ready to go to the British Ambassador’s reception. It was formal but good fun, unfortunately not all of the team could go some are in hospital or in quarantine. I also got to interview Tim Shriver the International president of the Special Olympics and the son of Eunice Kennedy Shriver the founder of the Special Olympics movement (and sister of JFK) for the Coca Cola blog, he was really nice and made me feel really relaxed it was a fun interview to do.

Mr Shriver is much more experienced at doing this sort of thing than I am but he is such a warm person he quickly put me at ease and we got a really good interview which you can see on the You tube site:

The Greek President, Karolos Papoulias, Tim Shriver, the President of the Special Olympics and Joanna Despotoulou of the Special Olympics Organising Committee

On the evening of Saturday 25th June all of the teams gathered outside the Panathenaic Stadium in central Atens for the opening Ceremony of the 2011 Special Olympic World Summer Games. The ceremony started at 8pm with some music then the Presidential Guards paraded into the areana for the arrival of the Karolos Papoulias the President of the Hellenic Republic of Greece.

It was then the turn of all the athletes to parade proudly into the arena.

Me and the GB Team entering the arena

When we had all entered the arena we enjoyed some wonderful music by the legendary Stevie Wonder, our Coach Tony really enjoyed this and was dancing away to the music.

Stevie Wonder in Concert

There was some wonderful dancing telling a Greek “odyssey”. This was followed by the raising of the Special Olympic Flag, the saying of the oath…………

Let me win! But if I cannot win, let me be brave in the attempt!

The final part of the opening ceremony was the arrival of the flame, which was delivered into the arena on a winged chariot, and the lighting of the Special Olympic torch. The final part of the evening was a spectacular firework display.

The arrival of the Special Olympic flame.

The Special Olympic torch and fireworks.

Unfortunately a number of the countries, including Great Britain have been struck down with a tummy bug. So far I’m okay but not sure what affect it will have on the games. I start my competition on Tuesday with the long jump.

Me and my (big) kit bag.

It seems a long time ago that we were all sitting in the village social club raising funds to go to Athens and now the time has arrived. I’ve been packed for days and excited about going to Greece. In the build up to the weekend dad did an interview for Heart Radio in Peterborough earlier in the week and dad and I both did a telephone interview with Nick Fairbairn of BBC Radio Cambridgeshire.

We set off for Heathrow Terminal 1 at 2pm to meet the rest of the team at 5pm. We arrived in good time and immediately found the small contingent of athletes that had already arrived – the distinctive kit helped. We waited for all the team to arrive and then split into our regional travelling groups. We were issued with our games passes then we waited for boarding.

Mum, dad, Harriet and William left at about 5.30pm then we waited for our Aegeon Airways flight at 8.25pm. We were delayed taking off, finally departing at 9.05pm. Our flight arrived at 2.30am local time and then it was a four hour coach ride a two hour boat ride to the island of Skiathos – our home for the next four days.

We stay on the Mama Mia island of Skiathos until 24th June then we return to Athens for the competition.

You can follow what we are doing on you tube, as Coca Cola are doing 3 videos which are on you tube, here is the first