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Monthly update from our Chef de Mission

on 08-04-2013 17:00

ParalympicsGB Chef de Mission for Sochi 2014 Penny Briscoe shares an insight into the planning and activity behind preparing the team for the Sochi 2014 Paralympic Winter Games.

It’s been just four weeks since my last blog, but what a month it’s been!

When I last wrote, I had just heard the news that I had been appointed ParalympicsGB’s Chef de Mission for the 2014 Winter Paralympic Games in Sochi. It was incredibly exciting to get such an amazing opportunity to lead the team next year and if you would like to look back at my thoughts on the news, you can find my previous blog here.

At that time, however, I was also conscious that our winter sports were in the middle of a critical few weeks of competition. The curlers and alpine skiers had just finished their World Championships and we had test events and further Championships still to come. As a result my first task as Chef de Mission was actually not that different from my ‘day’ job as the Director of Sport for the BPA: to continue our support of Paralympic sports and to monitor how all the athletes got on.

"Test events are a very important part of our collective preparations for a Games."Penny Briscoe

I am delighted to report that our Alpine skiers did really well at the official Test Event in Sochi. Test events are a very important part of our collective preparations for a Games: they give the sports the opportunity to try out the field of play that they will be potentially competing on at the Games; they give everyone the chance to test transport systems, accommodation, training facilities, travel fatigue strategy and so on; and they give the team at the BPA the opportunity to feed back to the Games Organising Committee on specific elements that the sports or the BPA believe will provide a better or smoother experience for ParalympicsGB at Games time. Both the Skiing test event and the Curling test event (which doubled as their World Championships) proved valuable experiences for us and the sports.

I would also like to take this opportunity to congratulate our Sledge Hockey team on a fantastic set of performances at the World B Championships in Nagano, Japan. They needed a finish of third or better in order to go through to the next stage of the qualification process for Sochi. They faced an unusually tough challenge in that they were up against regular scrimmaging-partner Estonia in the crucial third/fourth place play-off match, but their strong win ensured that GB succeeded in getting that crucial third place to take them through to the final qualifying event.

After all the excitement of competition, it was then time to talk to the Organising Committee. The Chef de Mission seminar is held approximately a year before each Games by the Organising Committee and almost every nation expecting to compete sends a delegation. It’s important to attend; it’s our chance to meet the teams who will be working on the Games and build relationships, as well as asking questions.

"It can be crucial to the overall team’s ability to operate at the Games, and therefore to its overall success, that we get this level of detailed planning right." Penny Briscoe

For ParalympicsGB this time it was me as Chef de Mission, Tim Hollingsworth our CEO and one of the staff from our Sport department at the BPA. During the Seminar, the Organising Committee present to the delegations on all sorts of business relating to the Games, such as administration of entries, accreditations, transport, freight, Village and non-Village accommodation etc. Some of the subjects might sound quite dry, but in fact it can be crucial to the overall team’s ability to operate at the Games, and therefore to its overall success, that we get this level of detailed planning right.

We also got a chance to see what the venues look like. It’s fair to say that Sochi is still has a way to go before it is ready and most of the venues are still building sites. But that is pretty standard for most Games where there is a lot of development going on and we have been reassured that Sochi will be ready well before our Opening Ceremony on March 7, 2014.

In the meantime we will continue all our preparations for the winter team, and I look forward to writing my next blog in May, when we will be just 300 days to go.


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