So, it’s nearly four weeks since returning from Rio with Team GB and I’m back off to Rio again for the Paralympics.
This time I’m not covering the Paralympics as an event though. The previous homecoming commission went so well with Team GB that British Airways have asked Getty Images if they could commission me to fly out to Rio just to document the Paralympics GB Team flying home.
It’s a quick turnaround though. I leave the UK on 18th September, spend one night in Rio and then return with the athletes on 19th September eventually landing back in the UK on the morning of 20th September. To Rio and back in less than 48 hours with 23 hours spent on a plane!
The format was the very much the same as last time. Breakfast with Simon Yates the PR manager with British Airways to discuss a shot list and ideas. Join the BA cabin crew and film crew in the afternoon for the journey to Galeao Airport and then document the Paralympics GB Team on their journey from Rio back to Heathrow.
Again, we were on the gold-nosed British Airways flight BA2016 named ‘victoRious’ heading back to another heroes’ welcome at Heathrow. 147 medals were won in Rio with 64 of those being gold so there was plenty of interest back at home to see images of the medal winners enjoying their flight home. Many of the athletes wanted to sit in the flight deck posing for pictures with their medals during the short time before take-off and it was quite crowded as the queue to get in got longer and longer. I was determined to get a picture of the most successful athlete of all before we took off as I thought it would be a good image to transmit back to the UK before we got airborne and we lost the opportunity. Dame Sarah Storey with her three golds in Rio became the only British woman to have won 14 gold medals and had pulled clear of Tanni Grey-Thompson’s record which she shared before the Rio Paralympics. After a lot of organizing we managed to jump the queue and positioned Sarah with Kadeena Cox in the flight deck with Sarah wearing the pilot captain’s hat. We then tried to recreate a group picture in the First Class cabin with as many gold medalists as we could position in to the small space.
I knew the communications would be bad out on the runway but this time I was ready and the images flew over to the picture desk at Getty Images with no problems. Once we were in the air the party atmosphere started and I moved around the cabins documenting the athletes socializing.
It felt good to land back at Heathrow and even though I’d only been on the go for a couple of days the time difference had made me feel as shattered as when I came back from covering the Olympics Games. And that was that…….for at least another 4 years! – Alex.