Sunday, July 29, 2012

The Village

We are a few days into our stay at the village and the giddy feeling is here to stay being amongst Canada’s best athletes is here to stay! The amenities are so good with what feels like hundreds of personal medical staff and COC employees pampering us like my mother would. Our room is tight, our beds have extensions and our suitcase contents are splayed everywhere since the drawers aren’t big enough. We definitely over packed since we now have more Canadian gear than we know what to do with but it is nice to wear a brand new item of clothing every day!

We have gone to and from the venue multiple times for practice and the ride takes about 45 minutes. We go through the center of town on double decker city buses, passing right beside Big Ben, the Wheel, Buckingham palace and then we walk through a beautiful park to the Horse Guards Parade to get to center court. The atmosphere is straight up excitement from everyone involved and we barely have to do anything as the volunteers are so numerous! I was forced to ask one of them not to pick up the balls near my feet because that is just too much! The fun girls (professional dancers) are out in full force and are training just as much as us. It gives us a chance to experience the buzz of center court without the 15,000 people.

Back at the village we have some pretty cool roommates. We are now a full apartment with 6 athletes and the place is rocking! We have two gymnasts, two fencers plus Josh and I.

Nathan Gafuik is our only male gymnast at the games and is a wicked guy. We have chilled in our living room a few times thus far and just had a great discussion regarding the evolution of male gymnastics. Apparently they used to score the bar (his specialty) out of  a max of 10 but now it starts at 10 with technical moves added to that. This means people are taking more chances and adding more difficult elements and combos. Also, the floor exercises are far more complex since athletes are doing 6 or 7 passes when they used to only do 4 or 5. Watch for gymnastics to be far more complex in London, I can’t wait!  Follow this Olympian national champion on his London quest - @gafuik_nathan

We are also rooming with the confident fencer Etienne Lalonde who is a beauty. He brings a breath of European style to the apartment that I can’t. Tall, French and not afraid to speak his mind; this guy is a blast. Check him out at @etzlalonde

Phillipe Beaudry is another fencer but a little more reserved yet equally as confident. He is a solid French Canadian athlete who is competing in his first games. Looking forward watching him and getting on his case about twitter.

Jason Burnett just strolled into our apartment this morning. He is our only male trampoline athlete at the games and was apparently a silver medalist in Beijing and has won a few medals in other games. Looking forward to chilling with this high flier and Olympic legend. Connect with him at -  @JasonBurnett_

And as always, you can connect with my beach partner, roomie and better half Josh Binstock @joshbinner throughout the games and beyond.

Connect with the boys and stay tuned for more on my end!


Thursday, July 26, 2012

My personal opening ceremonies

After our Grand Slam in Klagenfurt the team decided to travel early to the Olympic Village early in order to acclimatize to the British site and conditions. We left Klagenfurt at 6 AM, transferred in Vienna and landed to a warm welcoming in London before noon. 

We had pre-authorized accreditation which we had to get validated in the airport and then we were escorted from arrivals to catch an Olympic bus. We didn’t lift a thing or have to think about the logistics as volunteers kept popping up out of nowhere! The information crew was super excited to meet us and the UPS delivery team chatted with us for a bit about their experiences with famous athletes thus far. 

The bus driver was a well spoken old guy who was able to take us on a verbal tour while we made our way through town. We went close to the venue, saw Big Ben, experienced the river then took a turn to the village where we were first took in the magnitude of the Games. 

The village was GIGANTIC and from a distance we spotted the main stadium, the basketball gym and the athlete towers.  The Canadian building stood out like a sore thumb as it was highlighted with maple leaf flags and Canadian branding, similar to a proud Canadian traveller’s backpack!

The bus underwent a thorough security search and then we were dropped off at a secondary accreditation center to confirm out identities and scan our bags before getting shuttled to the front doors of our building. Sitting on the patios of the building were a couple hockey sticks so Josh and I went right for them. We then got after the red moose at the front door.

After a few picks we dropped our stuff in our rooms and went directly to the cafeteria to FEAST. Our beach delegation ate together and there were so many options to choose from! Pretty much every major type of national cuisine we covered, including Macdonald’s who had the largest ordering area.

We then went to our Canadian gear fitting at a small elementary school that the COC had rented out. We had a bunch of gear put together for us from the Hudson Bay Company so we tried every article on, made some alteration measurements and modeled to each other over a few laughs. I would reveal the clothing right now but as it stands the opening ceremonies gear is supposed to be a surprise!

We head back to the site, ate again and then caught up on a bunch of emails. We were tired and had an incredibly exciting day on a sleepless travel day.

Our first day was eye opening with regards to the magnitude of the games. We had amazing connections with volunteers from around the world and each one seemed to give me energy. The Canadian staff were so motivated to help us and were all Olympians who understood the importance of this event to each person, team and delegation. This is my first Olympics but I have been here in my dreams many times. Time to make everything a reality