The then Chairman of the Bucks Legacy Board, Carl Etholen, went to Sochi in 2014 along with torchbearers Gemma Collis and Andy White. Here were his reports from the Games.
The day of departure. Pick up at 11am (7am GMT) from the Hotel to the airport for the flight back to Moscow which was delayed and arrived in Moscow at 5pm (1pm GMT). Craig and Gemma stayed on in Moscow for some educational visits organised by the Foreign Office and are due to return on 12th March, whilst Andy and Carl boarded a flight back to London arriving at Heathrow at 19.35 (GMT)
As Carl had not visited the Alpine Resort as yet and as it was in effect the last day, Carl headed for the Mountains whilst Craig, Gemma and Andy headed to the Olympic Park to watch Team GB Mens Curling team.
In the mountains, Carl saw the Mens Super G Visually impaired downhill skiing and Mens Super G sitting.
From there having met Mr Duane Kale from the IPC in New Zealand last Wednesday, Carl was invited to accompany him on 2 cable cars to see the venue where the Biathlon takes place. As time was against us, we descended , Carl was invited into the Australian and United States Paralympic Association joint reception prior to the Medals ceremony at Rosa Khutor Medals Plaza.
Due to different invitations in the morning, Craig , Gemma and Andy went to the Alpine Resort and saw the first downhill skiing whilst Carl was invited to the Visa Paralympic Hall of Fame, where 2 retired Paralympian visually impaired downhill skiers( Eric Villalon( ESP) and Verena Betele (GER) and one retired coach Join Kreamelmeyer( USA) were inductees for their outstanding achievements within the sport.
From there Carl took a bus to the Olympic Park where he sat down and watched the Ice Sledge Hockey in the Shayba Stadium with a match between Canada and Sweden. A result of 10-1 to Canada. The atmosphere was electric with Ice Hockey being played to the full with a few players being sin binned.
Carl was then joined by the others to go to the Ice Cube and watch several Curling matches before Carl and Andy headed back . Gemma and Craig went onto go and watch Ice Sledge Hockey at 8pm with a match between Russia and Korea and who should be directly below Gemma and Craig this time but a Russian called Vladimir Putin. Result was 2-2 with Korea winning on penalties.
The countdown has nearly come to an end with the official opening of the Sochi Paralympic Winter Games this evening.
An early breakfast at 7am saw the four of us board a bus back to the Sochi Zimni Theatre at 8am when it was the turn of Andy who was to be one of the torch bearers but on a different route to Gemma yesterday. Andy had pre-purchased his torch and received a certificate which Gemma had also been given yesterday.
Arrived back at base at 1pm Local time( 9am GMT), a quick change and rush to an official lunch hosted by the British Paralympic Association for athletes, friends, families, partners, and sponsors including Channel 4 who will be broadcasting over 150 hours from Sochi - although the Winter Athletes did not attend as they are busy training in the Mountains.
Pick up at 6.15 pm ( local time) 2.15pm ( GMT) for transport to the Olympic Park with live coverage on Channel 4 from 3.30pm GMT.
After breakfast, we travelled to the centre of Sochi and to a rendezvous at the Old Theatre Zimni where Gemma was issued with her uniform for the Torch relay, some instruction for the transfer of the flame and how to hold the torch. Then off she went from the theatre to rapturous applause from the organisers, volunteers and all the people who lined the streets.
Upon Gemma's return, we headed back to the Paralympic Family Hotel, the Ayvazovsky Hotel, when it was decided that Gemma, Craig and myself went exploring to the Olympic Park, while Andy who was not feeling too good, retired to his room.
Having seen the Olympic Park on the television a few weeks ago, we did not appreciate the magnitude of it. Having covered several miles, at 3.30pm, we decided that it would take nearly 1 and half hours to return by foot/ wheelchair - so we asked very nicely some of the volunteers who were busy preparing all transport which was to start tomorrow, if someone could drive us back to the hotel. Happily, they did this as quite honestly we were exhausted!
Back to the hotel, a quick snack and then a Skype call with Ian Barham and others at a schools event taking place in Stoke Mandeville at 5pm Local time here and 1pm GMT.
Then it was a trip to a Morrocan restaurant in a nearby hotel for an enjoyable evening meal and then sleep