BLOG: Mac physiotherapist sends greetings from the Olympics
Greetings from London, the Olympic buzz is certainly in the air!
For those of you that aren’t aware, I have been given the wonderful opportunity and privilege of travelling with our national beach volleyball team as the medical coordinator and chief therapist this summer.
It has been quite a whirlwind so far. We arrived in London last Saturday morning after a week in Klagenfurt, Austria, where we were competing in the final FIVB World Tour event. It seems our team has brought along the sunshine and warm temperatures from the beaches, as it has been record highs in London since we arrived. Our team has the first day off training in several days, so it is a chance to catch up on sleep, take care of laundry and of course, share my adventures in London with my family, friends and colleagues back home!
One of the first questions everyone asks is, “What is it like in the Olympic Village?” The village is incredible. It is everything one would expect it to be and more. Security is extremely tight, which is common at an event of this magnitude, but once you are through the x-ray machines and security searches the grand plaza is amazing. There is a Samsung store where you can call home to loved-ones for free, a post office that will make personalized stamps with your picture on it, a salon offering a wide range of beauty services free of charge – including haircuts and full manicures with nails painted in your country’s colors. I’m booking my appointment already!
There’s also a photo shop that will customize collages from the Games, including action shots of your favorite athletes and the opening ceremonies, or whatever other memories you would like to capture from the games. And of course, there’s the Olympic shopping centre where you can buy official Olympic clothing and other fun items. It’s all pretty amazing. You name it, it’s here, and all the little extras make the athletes feel at home.
Another interesting area of the village is the main dining hall. It is enormous, as you can imagine, and has room for all of the teams and delegations from every country. The room is market-style, with food stations from around the world. Last week was quite busy, as most of the teams had just arrived, and there was quite a buzz at dinner. (Tennis superstars) Venus and Serena Williams were sitting beside me, and they were pretty much ambushed at the buffet – flocked for pictures by dozens of athletes from every country. Venus and Serena were quite gracious, but I can’t imagine that they’ll rush back to dine in the venue. It was quite overwhelming, and I realized their Olympic experience must be quite different.
The Canadian House is exceptional. As you walk into the residential areas looking at all the countries’ apartment style residences with flags across the balconies, you come across our building with the large letters “C-A-N-A-D-A” and the red maple leaf flags flying, and there is something extra-special in the air. Guests are greeted by a large red moose, who has quickly become the Games favorite and clearly one of the most popular picture photo sites on the village. I believe it’s the moose’s second Olympics, as he was in Vancouver in 2010. By day two, the head of Canadian security needed to fasten a couple of large chains around his legs. Everyone wants our moose!
Last week there was a special welcome ceremony for our entire Canadian delegation in the garden area of our building. Mark Tewksbury, our chef de mission for the Games, did a great job of firing everyone up and giving out a special thank you to all of the support staff behind the scenes who worked so hard to make the Canadian village home for our athletes. We marched through the village as a large group to the main plaza, where we were greeted by Canadian dignitaries who offered their congratulations and good cheer. The highlight of the evening was when they played our national anthem and raised our Canadian flag. It was a wonderful celebration. We could really feel the Canadian pride and spirit rushing through each and every athlete, coach and support staff member.
Visit http://www.london2012.com/beach-volleyball/ to track all of the beach volleyball action in London.