Whereas the tennis world was focused on stormy US Open, I was enjoying a few days in sunny London during the Paralympics.
Wandering round London, it was nearly impossible to avoid the Paralympics.

The Olympic Park

East London has undergone major development in the last few years to transform it into the centrepiece of London 2012.
Most Olympic and Paralympic events took place at the ground-breaking 2.5 square km Olympic Park in Stratford. The most distinctive venues in the Olympic Park are the Olympic Stadium, that played host to the Olympic and the Paralympic Athletics as well as all the opening and closing ceremonies, Zaha Hadid’s Aquatics Centre and the Velodrome, nicknamed the Pringle.

The Olympic Stadium and the Orbit

The Olympic Aquatics Centre

The Orbit and the Olympic Stadium

The Olympic Park from Tennis Buzz on Vimeo.

The Olympic Park has now closed its doors and will remain shut for at least a year while venues are dismantled.
While the fate of the Olympic Stadium remains uncertain, three of the eight sports venues (the temporary basketball, water polo and Riverbank arenas) will disappear.
As for the four remaining venues:
– Zaha Hadid’s Aquatics Centre will shed its wings, reducing the seating capacity from 17500 to 2500. It will host training and competitions and will be open to the public.
– the Velodrome will be the heart of the new Lee Valley Velopark, including the Olympic BMX track and new bike trails, café and hire and workshop facilities.
– the Copper Box, the multi-use arena, will host a myriad of sports as well as concerts and corporate events upon reopening, with a gym, exercise studio and café.
Eton Manor, that hosted the Wheelchair tennis competition will become a permanent home for the Lee Valley Hockey Centre and the Lee Valley Tennis Centre, and is scheduled to host the European Hockey Championships in 2015.

The site will reopen as the Queen Elizabeth II Olympic Park in 2014.

The Games Makers

The purple Games Makers uniforms have become synonymous with the London 2012 Games: thousands of volunteers took to the streets to inform and guide the athletes, officials and fans:

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London 2012 Games Makers

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When is the Paralympic Wheelchair Tennis competition?

1-8 September

Where will the Paralympic Wheelchair Tennis take place?

The Paralympic tennis event will take place at Eton Manor, the only purposed-built London 2012 Paralympic venue.
Situated towards the north end of Olympic Park, Eton Manor features nine competition courts, all designed in striking blue color, and four practice courts. The venue is based on the grounds of the old Eton Manor Sports Club, once a popular community sports facility in the 1990s.

When did Wheelchair Tennis first appear in the Paralympics?

After featuring as an exhibition sport at the Seoul 1988 Paralympic Games, Wheelchair Tennis was introduced as a full medal event at the Barcelona 1992 Games, and has featured at every Games since then.
Quad events have been added in Athens in 2004.

How is Wheelchair Tennis played?

Wheelchair tennis follows the same rules as able-bodied tennis. Except the ball is allowed to bounce twice. The second bounce can be either inside or outside the court boundaries.

How many gold medals are up for grabs?

6. There are six medal events to be contested: men’s and women’s Singles, men’s and women’s Doubles, Quad Singles and Quad Doubles. Quad players have an impairment that affects three or more limbs.

Who are the favorites?

Women: Unbeaten in over 460 singles matches since 2003, Dutch Esther Vergeer is a sure thing for the podium. She bids for her fourth successive singles medal at London 2012. Her toughest competitors will be compatriots Aniek van Koot and Jiske Griffioen, as well as Sabine Ellerbrock from Germany.

Men: The competition is wide open in the men’s event. Shingo Kunieda of Japan could become the first player to win two men’s singles Paralympic titles. But he has plenty of strong challengers. They are headed by world number one Stéphane Houdet of France and Maikel Scheffers and Ronald Vink of the Netherlands.
Young Argentinian Gustavo Fernandez could also cause a surprise.

Quad: This could come down to a duel between two longtime rivals: American David Wagner, who earned a bronze at Beijing and gold at Athens, and Great Britain’s Peter Norfolk – nicknamed The Quadfather – who took the gold in Athens and Beijing.

During the Olympic Games, Eton Manor will have temporary training pools for participants in Aquatics events. It will have three 50m pools for swimmers, and smaller pools for synchronised swimmers and Water Polo players.

It will then host Wheelchair Tennis during the Paralympic Games, and remain a training facility for Aquatics competitors. There will be nine competition courts and four warm-up courts. The total of 10,500 seats for spectators will include a 5,000-capacity show court.

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Evolved from the year-end tournament known as the Masters Grand Prix that began in 1970, the ATP World Tour Finals has been held at the O2 Arena in London since 2009.
Its move to London definitely breathed new life into the event, which had suffered from player withdrawals during its stint in Shanghai.

GMT

The O2 Arena itself brings a glam factor to the tournament, which already has a marquee line-up but has now also acquired an A-list audience. The sell-out crowds do not only get a chance to rub shoulders with the elite of world tennis, but also catch a glimpse of a glittering array of sports stars and celebrities. Among those spotted last year include Princess Beatrice, Kylie Minogue, Kevin Spacey, and Diego Maradona.

ATP World Tour Finals, O2 Arena, London
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Programmed in the context of Paris bid to host the 1992 Olympics, the POPB (Palais Omnisports de Paris-Bercy) was conceived as a modifiable sports arena capable of accomodating between 3500 and 17000 spectators for over 24 sports from basketball to boxing to tennis. Recognizing that sports tournaments alone would not be enough to make the project viable, the municipality also required that the new arena be capable of hosting arts events (concerts, musicals…)

Architecture parisienne.

Designed by a team of architects: Andrault-Parat, Prouvé and Guvan, the POPB can be can be easily recognized by its pyramidal shape and its walls covered with sloping lawn.
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