Fulfilling an Olympic dream, despite Parkinson's

Matt Eagles, 43, has had Parkinson's for many years and is a keen sports photographer. During the Olympics most of us watched from our sofas or the stands, but Matt was amongst the action. This is his story… 

“17 days, 10 football matches, taekwondo, badminton, basketball and beach volleyball. 3 times at Wembley Stadium, 3 times at Old Trafford, and once at Cardiff. 

“Over 1,500 rail miles and thousands of pictures later, my journey as official Olympics photographer is now complete.

“I am still absolutely buzzing. I cannot believe ‘I was there!’ 
Uruguay score against UAE - Photo by Matt Eagles

"I lived on adrenalin the whole time. But I was concerned my Parkinson’s would spoil my big chance. 

"I had visions of falling over in front of a global audience of billions as the gold medal was presented at Wembley - it never happened. I had recently started on new medication and thankfully it worked like a dream.

“On the whole my mobility was great. I walked miles with heavy camera equipment, sweated buckets, I always ended the day exhausted but smiling. 

“The venue photo managers and stadium staff were incredibly helpful. They organised lockers to store equipment and giving me bottles of water and power bars when nothing was available elsewhere.

“When I wasn’t so good the volunteers spotted my discomfort before I cared to admit it myself.  An army officer spotted I was wobbly outside Wembley Arena and a wheelchair arrived (for which I was secretly extremely grateful). Then I was taken to the media transport where I headed to the Olympic Park.

“At beach volleyball I had really bad cramps and could barely stand having walked nearly 2 miles in the wrong direction trying to get to Horse Guards Parade. I was fast tracked into the venue again in a chair and taken to a disabled viewing spot far better than my original ticket. 

“My big passion is football. I was completely focused on the action at Cardiff and Wembley. Although kneeling on concrete with bare knees for an hour and a half took its toll. 

“I made sure my Parkinson’s didn’t spoil my moment to shine. I proved to myself and any doubters that if you are determined enough there are no barriers to achieving your goals.”

You can see a selection of Matt’s best photos from the Olympic Games on the Photo Gallery of the ESPN website. There are more of Matt's fantastic photos on his Flickr page.

What were your experiences of the Olympics? Did you attend an event?


Claire said...

Thanks for sharing your fantastic photos and olympic experience Matt - I'm still smiling from a great couple of weeks and now really looking forward to the paralympics.

Mike 700 said...

Yes, we went to see the ladies volleyball at Earls Court, and I have nothing but praise for the soldiers the G4 staff and the terrific volunteers.

I have mobility problems and everyone was so helpful, and so happy.

The facilities at the venue were also excellent.

A great day was had by all.

Anonymous said...

Matt, you are an example to us all. Good on ya!

Beef said...

You're a star Matt

Elizabeth Taylor said...

Well done Matt, you are an inspiration to us all!

My husband Bob has parkinson's we saw Badminton at wembley arena - more great seats. Athletics at the olympic stadium and modern pentathalon in Greenwich park.Watching the final olympic silver medal awarded to Samantha Murray, which was very special to any GB supporter. The volunteers and organisers did the whole country proud. One volunteer 'babysat' Bob and I needed the loo...an example of going over and above the callof duty!

We thought the whole event was marvellous, out tv was never off during the entire olympics we loved it all!

You should be taking a well earned rest now, sit back and admire the photo's, they are great!

Matt said...

Hi all , thanks for the lovely comments - I'm back doing my normal job now..I photographed at the Olympics during my annual leave!

Anonymous said...

Matt what fabulous photos and what an amazing experince you must have had. Well done and you are an insparation to all.

Anonymous said...

The pictures I saw from the women's football in particular are fantastic, Matt!

You've really captured the emotion of the occasion.

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