August 1, 2016
Arrivals Coming Thick and Fast
Started today having breakfast with Sarah Jack who is a sport psychologist with the Australian Team. Sarah is a Palmerston North girl and we have known each other for a while. A few years ago she moved to take up a position in Canberra and we have stayed in touch over time. I have been making good use of the gym in the Village and the range and quality of the gear is great. At this stage of things it is not too crowded, but based on experience it will get pretty hectic over the next few days until competition starts.
The big event of the day was the Flag Raising ceremony down in the Olympic Plaza in the International zone. Each country (or with smaller countries they group several together) is welcomed into the Village by a greeting from the Village Mayor, a performance by local dancers (with some Samba themes), and exchange of gifts by the Mayor and our Chef de Mission, and then our flag being ceremonial raised to signify that we are in residence. Right at the end a group of our Team responded with a Haka, and as usual it went down very well – a lot of buzz and energy.
I have started to pick up some work as people start to settle in and shift their orientation towards what they are here for. That always is reflected in an increase in tension levels and a preparedness to chat about how things are progressing. Sometimes this is just a regular chat, and at times it progresses into something more formal.
On Saturday, the Women’s Rugby 7s Team arrived in from Florida. They made a haka response to the one that they were greeted with and it was really great. They are a fun group with a lot of good natured teasing and enthusiasm. They were very appreciative of how they were received and the help they received to settle in.
An Unwelcome Journey
In the afternoon Rob Waddell, Bruce Hamilton (Head Doctor), Mike Taylor (Operations) and I set off in a van, with a local driver, ostensibly to watch the Men’s Hockey team play a game against Ireland, and then to travel on to the Equestrian Centre to do a welcome and orientation session with the Grooms.
The driver could not speak English, but we thought that he had good instructions that would get us to the right place on time – should take about 30 minutes. One and half hours later we were passing places that we had gone by before, and seemed lost. Together, with the help of Google we helped the driver get to where he needed to go (by this time we had given up the Hockey and went straight on to Equestrian), and arrived there about 2 hours after we had left the Village!
It was really good to do the Grooms separately from the riders (the riders arrive in tomorrow). In past games, the Grooms have felt rather neglected and taken for granted, but this time they felt recognised and appreciated. Each of them (mostly English) received a pounamu pendant, and they were thrilled. In my orientation talk I was able to link things to my past involvement with Equestrian at Olympics and the World Equestrian Games in Aachen in 2006 – it was a bit like old times.
At the end of the formalities, Erik Duvander, Equestrian Coach, asked Rob Waddell to share with the others his own sporting involvement in regard to Rowing (multiple World Champion; Olympic Gold Medalist) and Sailing (Team NZ – 3 campaigns), and he also shared with them that he and his wife (Sonia; also an Olympian) were raising thoroughbred race horses. It was really interesting and a nice touch to help others to recognise what Rob brings to his role of Chef de Mission.