BC2 athlete Claire Taggart wrote a blog of her experiences at the Test Event. Read what she has to say below and follow her blog here to find out about her love of tortoises and Snow Patrol
"Recently I traveled with team mates, Nigel Murray and David Smith to participate in a Paralympic test event in the run up to the Rio 2016 Paralympics. Here is a day by day account of how we got on:
This morning I left the house at 4am to get the first flight to Heathrow, ahead of our transfer to Rio at 12pm. I was tired but excited for the day ahead. Once arriving at Heathrow I got a sandwich and waited for the boys to clear security so I could meet them. Once through we all did some shopping before heading to the gate. We got on the plane and planned what we would do for the next 12 hours. I planned to sleep for a while, watch movies and read. I did all three, watching Pitch Perfect 2, Spy, Miranda, and many others. The food on the plane was great and every few hours there was more food brought around. Once we got off the plane there were cameras everywhere, flashing and people with iPhones taking our photos. Apparently this was to test out how it would be in Rio 2016. Still it was a bit daunting after just getting off a 12 hour flight. Once we got outside the heat was overwhelming, it was so hot and sticky. We packed up into the minibuses that were waiting and headed to the hotel. It was now about 11:30pm UK time. The journey to the hotel took about 30 minutes and once we got there the cool relief of air conditioning was amazing. I went straight to bed as we had an early start the next morning.
Woke up around 7:30 to head to breakfast for 8:30. We had a training session at 9:30-11am before equipment check at 11:20. This morning we worked on getting used to the floor and the lights etc. It was very warm and humid but the floor was of good quality and we all passed equipment check with no problems. We had lunch at a nearby cafe area and then had our second training session at 3-5pm. We then headed back to the hotel for dinner, as there was a rooftop pool I seized the opportunity to get my feet wet and sat on the pool side for half an hour whilst working on my tan. We then went for dinner and then off to bed, as our schedule the next day was jam packed.
We went for breakfast early and headed over to the competition courts to warm up ready for our first game of the day. I was very nervous as this was the first game that I had started. We played Russia first, then Portugal then Brazil. We beat Russia 9-2, then went on to beat Portugal 7-3. We lost to Brazil in the final 5-4, although we lost we came back from 5-0 down and won 4/6 ends. It meant we finished with an team silver and ready for the individual competition to start tomorrow.
Today was the start of the individual competition. I had 4 matches today and it was a long but successful day. The morning started at 10am by playing the world No 1 Maciel Santos, although I lost I made him play and kept it tight for the first few ends. I then went on to play Fernando from Portugal and lost 7-3, even after being 3-0 up after the first 2 ends. I kicked myself about this for a while but then had to go straight back into the call room to play Kozmin from Russia. Finally I got a win of 6-1 and I felt like I could actually compete at this level. My final match of the day was against Levi of Israel. I lost but played well plus gained myself my first violation! I played a good shot and reversed into the back of my box, but knocked my water bottle over! I knew if I threw a ball it would be a 2 ball violation to Levi, but I only had 45 seconds to throw three balls! I threw it and the ref grabbed it and awarded the violation. As I had still 2 balls to play I delivered them and promptly put both on top of the head! Nada Levi being the gentleman he is, threw the violation balls away as he was already 8/1 up. Although I didn't make it out of my pool, I was happy with the way I played and performed as an individual.
Today Nigel and Smithy had individual matches starting at 10am but as I didn't get out of my pool it meant I could have a lie in and then be up in time to go watch their matches. It was good to be there for morale support for both of them, to see Nigel unfortunately lose at tie break and to see Smithy go on to win the gold. After this we had the medal ceremony. Bearing in mind it was at least 30 degrees and we then had to put on presentation jackets. I was hoping for the worlds quickest presentation to get the jackets off again. It was short and sweet and we watched Smithy get his gold before heading back to the hotel. I had some spare time so I put my feet in the pool for some physio before dinner. The plan was to stay on the side of the pool but that was not Smithy and Nigel's idea! We had dinner and then sat outside by the pool chatting and looking at the stars, great night + a few insect bites!
Home Day! Our flight wasn't until midnight so we planned to laze about in the morning before going to a shopping centre nearby to kill some time before heading to the airport. Smithy and I had a swim in the pool with Dawn (physio) and Claire (coach), it was awesome as it was so warm. We then headed to the shopping centre to find that barely any of the shops were open. It was weird, we got some lunch at Subway and shops started to open but we could only stay for a short time after that so there was no real time to have a look. When we came back to the hotel, I went and got out of my wheelchair for a few hours as I would be sitting in it and the plane seat all night.
We headed to the airport at 8pm and it was the most depressing and disappointing airport ever. Not to mention it felt like 100 degrees, it was boiling. There was very few places to eat and one shop, they will need to address this prior to the Paralympics next year. We got on our flight and I slept the entire way home, I woke up 2 hours prior to landing so I watched some Fawlty Towers and listened to my iPod. We caught our second flight home to Belfast and were home for 6:30pm.
A long week but a worthwhile week!"