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PARALYMPIC GAMES: Lord Coe is a real hit with crowds in Weymouth
12:00pm Wednesday 5th September 2012 in News
LORD Coe got a few hits in on his table tennis game when he visited Weymouth’s sports arena.
The chairman of the London 2012 Organising Committee spent some time on the beach talking to the organisers of the popular site – which offers people the chance to try wheelchair basketball, sitting volleyball, rowing, golf and table tennis.
Crowds waved and applauded Lord Coe as he took a trip around the site.
Lord Coe joined Bridport youngster Tom Kilcoyne, eight, for a game of table tennis. Tom told Lord Coe he practised table tennis about five or six times a week and gave him a few pointers.
Afterwards Tom said it had been great to meet him and that Lord Coe had been ‘good’ at table tennis.
He said: “It was awesome.”
Fiona Friar from Weymouth was in the arena with her children. They said they had previously watched Lord Coe at a Paralympic medals ceremony.
Mrs Friar was delighted to meet him in the flesh and get her ticket signed. She described the day as ‘absolutely out of this world’ and ‘phenomenal’.
Kerry Membruy from Dorchester brought her son Liam Mitchell, 13, to try out some of the sports on offer.
Liam said: “So far, I've enjoyed the rowing the most.”
Mrs Membruy said she was thrilled to get Lord Coe’s autograph.
Lord Coe said he had really enjoyed his visit to Weymouth and liked the facility – adding that it was really encouraging people to try a new sport.
He said: “I think it’s fantastic. It’s everything we wanted to happen when we bid for the Games, both the Olympics and Paralympics – the opportunity to use the big moment this nation is going through which it will never go through again.”
He said that part of the legacy of the Games would be for people to take sport into their daily lives. Lord Coe said: “This is a really smart and creative thing to do. I have seen lots of smart and creative things coming out of Weymouth and Portland over the last seven years.”
He said that people were really getting excited and enthused by sport but the challenge would be ensuring people were still as enthusiastic in the future He said: “The real challenge will be in five years time – do we still have the structures in place?”
He said it would be a challenge for everyone including parents and the media to keep the excitement about all sports going.
Sailors say: ‘It’s anybody’s race’
THE fired up British Sonar team insist the three-person keelboat class medals are ‘still anybody’s game’ after day four of the Paralympic Sailing Regatta.
Challenging variable conditions in Portland Harbour meant the Sonar contenders only got one race under their belts yesterday, with Portland’s John Robertson , Hannah Stodel and Steve Thomas being placed sixth overall.
They are just four points off the medals in the 14-boat Sonar fleet, with four scheduled races remaining.
Veering breezes caused an initial delay to the start of racing, then the first attempt to run race seven was abandoned on the second leg with the Brits laying in sixth. When racing began again, the trio managed to progress from ninth to sixth place and said they narrowly missed out on fourth place, with tight racing at the finishing line.
The American team led by Paul Callahan currently sit in bronze medal position with 27 points with the Brits on 31.
The Jens Kroker-helmed German boat lies second overall with 23 points while Udo Hessels’ Dutch team lead on 12 points. With the breeze forecast to increase today, and the hope that it will be more stable and consistent, Portland's Stodel, 27, insists this could work in the Brits’ favour. She said: “We were fired up as we just love going sailing. To be honest waiting we find funny because we could see the other teams getting stressed and wound up and we were like: ‘It’s Weymouth, this happens you know – deal with it!’ “It was the right call to abandon the race; it was all over the show. We came round the windward mark and it was a 20 degree wind shift at least, then it all changed again so I’m quite glad it was abandoned.
“Fair racing is better than that craziness.”
Races resume today at 10am.