Canada’s Dressage athletes have arrived (both human and equine), and are now settled into their respective accommodations.
Belinda Trussell (2nd Olympics) and Megan Lane (debut Olympics) were able to fly out ahead of their horses so that they could get sorted out and familiarize themselves with the venue before greeting their Olympic mounts.
Since the dressage jog isn’t until August 8th, this gives both Belinda and Megan (and their Grooms!) valuable time to get organized, get comfortable at the Village, get very comfortable at the venue, and become accustomed to all the “craziness” that comes with being an Olympic Games.
That “craziness” includes the extra security checks that happen wherever you go (entering the Village, entering the Venue, entering the stabling area). Plus getting used to the special Olympic transport system which takes the athletes to/from the Village and the Venue. This operates on a set schedule, so it’s important to carefully plan out your days in advance.
The best part of arriving early, and not having the jog until the 8th is that Belinda and Megan could take part in the Opening Ceremonies!! Sadly Eventing couldn’t since competition kicked off the next day (today).
The Opening Ceremonies are incredibly special for the athletes, and nothing else really gives that feeling of unity with not only the Canadian Olympic Team, but also unity with ALL athletes coming together from all sports across the globe.
And it’s indescribable that sensation when you first walk into the stadium in the Parade of Nations, and you see and hear the crowd. It is definitely very moving, very powerful, and really drives home that you are part of something much bigger. It’s a feeling that you carry with you not only through the Games, but throughout your life. It’s something you can draw upon whenever you feel down, discouraged, or need that extra “umph” when life is tossing you challenges right, left and centre.
Which is why I’m so thrilled that Belinda and Megan were able to march in the ceremonies!
Although it’s not for the faint of heart, that’s for sure. Athletes are gathered hours before at the Canadian apartment block in the Olympic Village. First order of business is ensuring you have your Opening Ceremonies pass, which is what grants you access. Your Olympic Accreditation is not enough on its own.
You’re then given a run-down of what will happen in getting to/ during / leaving the Opening Ceremonies. And lots of team spirit cheerleading! And there’s no better Canadian cheerleader than Canada’s Chef de Mission Curt Harnett. He can get you pumped up about going to get groceries at the local store, let alone about to walk onto the world stage and into the history books in Rio.
For these Games, it was having to take a bus for the trip to the Maracanã stadium. At which point, you’re then ushered into a “holding” stadium adjacent to the Maracanã. This is where the Organizers make sure that all the countries are organized in the same order as they will march into the stadium.
More standing, sitting, waiting………chants to keep people entertained and patriotic energy “up”, getting to meet fellow Canadian athletes, water and snacks distributed (if you’re lucky!) and reminders from the Chef de Mission to fully take in experience and not to have your face stuck in an iPhone as you walk into the stadium.
You know….just hanging out with tennis phenom Vasek Pospisil…as one does 🙂
Then you leave the holding pen, and start marching towards the main Maracanã stadium….and more standing and waiting…..spontaneous singing of Oh Canada
And Chef Curt reminds you to stay bunched together….no stragglers!
But that feeling when you walk in!
Although hours have passed before you get to see the Olympic flame lit, and your feet, legs & back are killing you from all the standing, and you likely won’t get to sleep until 1am, it’s worth it….
Canada has officially arrived and is ready to take on the world.
Go Canada Go!