It’s been an action packed 48 hours; coaches, buses, planes, 5,519 miles, media cameras, gifts, fireworks, the Haka and the pink panther singing Muse… but let’s rewind back to Thursday 24th…
We met at the Park Inn Hotel (near Heathrow) at 1.30pm where a coach took us to the Korean Ambassador’s special residency.
The team was in high spirits and looked fighting fit in their tracksuits.
Ready for it!
On Thursday 24 January, we were given a warm welcome by His Excellency Ambassador Park and Madam Shin who put on a delightful spread of tea, sandwiches and cream cakes.
They even made two special cakes to celebrate the bond between the two nations.
Special delivery from Gregg’s
Sky Sports and ITV popped down for a cuppa and a slice of cake too, ITV even wrote a lovely article about it which you can read if you click here
The team exchanged gifts with His Excellency, signed the guest book and hopped back on the coach to the hotel where Gaye Barber, National Volunteering Manager Special Olympics GB read out some good luck messages from David Cameron, Boris Johnson, Sir Alex, Arsene Wenger, Martin Jol and Ed Miliband.
Who are these people?
Can you guess who the three good luck messages are from in the photo?
It was then time for dinner, showers and bed before our big flight tomorrow…
Our flight was certainly an international affair, we were joined by Special Olympic teams from Belgium, Netherlands, Norway and San Marino.
Here’s Mikael with one of the athletes from Special Olympics Belgium before we took off.
Mikael and Special Olympics Belgium athlete
Flight was lovely, we got upgraded to Premium Economy so the extra leg room made all the difference. We arrived in Korea at 9am local time, the sun was shining, the snow was pure white – it looked incredible. The airport looked like a Special Olympics Airport, we bumped into a lot of other athletes including Special Olympics Venezuela.
Bobby and Venezuela
Once through customs and we had collected our luggage, we were greeted by cameras, cheers and big welcome signs which was lovely. We were straight onto the bus and taken to the Welcome Centre for some gifts, more cheers, lunch and a game of dress up.
Elizabeth and Wayne while Mikael flirts with the local ladies
It was then back onto the coach for a two-hour journey to Vivaldi Park where we are currently staying for two days. We were greeted this time by music, of two very different sorts I must say. The first song was delivered by a Korean bloke dressed as the Pink Panther singing a Muse song through a walkie-talkie – I kid you not!
I couldn’t resist a photo.
Me and Matt Bellamy aka the Pink Panther
Next up was a song from the Special Olympics New Zealand team who we are sharing the same floor with in Vivaldi Park. They’re a lovely bunch and wrote a song which went to the tune of Sweet Chariot, little do they know that we have our own little song up our sleeves…
We had a lovely meal that evening with the Kiwi’s and were treated to a special performance of the Haka after our dinner which was mind-blowing. It was certainly a day of treats as we were then told that the hotel had arranged for a fireworks display especially for us which we watched from our balconies overlooking the slopes – a fitting end to our first day in Korea.
It was then off to bed for a good night’s rest and to hopefully get rid of our jet lag. Everyone is in fine spirits and ready to hit the slopes for two days of intense training with Keith, Shaun and Alex.