A Kildare man is one of three physiotherapists working with the Irish paralympians in London.
Jonathan Faulkner, who lives in Maynooth with his fiance Laura Ward, also a physiotherapist, has been working with the Irish athletes for the past four years.
Now ensconsed (since yesterday) in the Olympic Village he told the Leinster Leader he was chatting to us from a balconey outside his apartment, watching the world go by.
“All of the nations have put their stamp on the village. There’s the Japanese house over there to my right, where they have loads of flags.
“And then over to my left there’s a whole bunch of Canadian and Greek flags.
“In the Irish house, they put huge photos of the athletes on billboards outside.”
Jon (as he is known) arrived in London on August 23, and they’re due back next Monday, September 10.
He and his colleges Fintan O’Donnell and Martin O’Loughlin are the physio team for all 49 athletes except for the rowers who are based at Eton Dorney and the sailors who are based in Weymouth.
“Injuries come and go and we deal with them, but then some have chronic injuries that require ongoing attention.
“When that’s the case, we work with them to prevent that bring being a performance impacting problem.
“We’re aiming towards having that not be a problem this week, whether its a medal, a work record or just a PB that people are aiming for.”
With so many athletes to look after, he says he’s not “flat out” because the whole thing has been scheduled.
“We’ve planned it that they don’t need to be here every day. Obviously there are things we might need to react to when they happen, and that has happened, but generally it’s all planned.”
The atmosphere in London is, he says “cool”.
“It’s definitely the best games that’s ever been – I’ve never been to one before, but that’s what I’m being told.
“It’s seemless and it’s very grand, it’s on a huge scale. Everytime you get here you it’s teeming with people. I mean, right now from my balconey, I’m looking a thousand people, all milling around. It’s amazing.”
Jon wasn’t on the ground for the opening ceremony. He was watching it from the stand. “It was pretty amazing, but he will be walking around for the closing ceremony.
“I’ll be waving to people, so maybe you’ll see me.”
Jon says he has been struck by what he calls “the story behind the Parolympics”. “There’s the awareness that disability isn’t something that will hold you back. It’s just part of who you are.“I’m learning it every day. It’s quite amazing to see people running around tracks with nothing but a piece of metal under your feet.”
Jon, who also works at Physiotherapy Works in Millennium Park, Naas urged people to watch the games on Setanta Sports for the rest of the week.
Other Kildare interest in the games is Sean Baldwin from Newbridge who is in the army in the Curragh and who is competing in shooting. “He’s managed by Liam Crawford from Naas,” Jon added.
- Conor McHugh