Newstalk Sports broadcaster is reporting from Rio during the Paralympic Games
Pat Hickey ... I’ll open with those words because I want it to be the last time I type them.
For obvious reasons it’s a story of great interest to the Irish public but I think it’s safe to say that not only do the public not know who the former President of the OCI is, but even if you told them, they wouldn’t care.
Upon arrival in Rio, the nightmare for any journalist is getting the call from the desk asking to stalk a courthouse for a glimpse of Mr Hickey, who depending on a judge, could be free to go and live his life within days or spend the next two years or so dealing with this.
Luckily that call hasn’t arrived and I’ve been able to do what I was sent here to do and what I’ve been looking forward to do with a mix of nerves and excitement in over the last couple of weeks. I wasn’t sure what to expect when talking to athletes this close to the games but they seem a good mix of relaxed and focused. Yesterday, we took a trip to the athletes village and the buzz was palpable – when asked if they were ready or if they needed to do anything the general response was "the work is done by now".
In the lead in to the games, Jason Smyth was one of three athletes selected by the governing body the IPC to meet the world's press. The Derry man has been billed as the "Paralympics' Usain Bolt" and if that’s a title that puts pressure on him, it certainly is not showing. Smyth, who's a four-time gold medallist, is out on the track tomorrow in the heats and unless he has a dramatic dip in form, he will be in Friday’s final. Sadly, Smyth can’t defend his 200 metres title as the event has been discontinued.
The funding cuts have led to worries that transport will be badly hit and in truth we won’t know until the Games start how bad the situation is. So far the only real knock-on effect to the athletes has been having to clean up, as household services is one of the things that has been hit. Given what most of these athletes have had to go through to get here, I’m sure they don’t mind a bit of housework.