Saturday, August 25, 2012: Part 2
I'm trying to get these updates done now because I know as the competition gets closer I will only be focussed on that and nothing else! Yesterday we spent the day in the main village, about a two hour drive from where we are. It is mostly traffic that makes it that long, we drove right through the heart of London past Big Ben, Westminster Abbey, the Thames, I thought it was incredible that we were just zipping by these things to get to the Paralympic Athletes Village!!! I often stop and think where I am and how incredible it is that I am here!
The main Athletes' Village is so hard to describe, it is just amazing!
First of all, just being around all the athletes. It is stunning to be in the midst of all these athletes from around the world (some countries I've never even heard of!) and to know we all share something in common. And then to think that all of these athletes, wherever they are from, have the determination and courage to push themselves to reach their goals, despite the obvious physical barriers they face. It is overwhelming to be surrounded by such strength.
There are apartment buildings throughout the village housing the different countries. You know who lives in what building by all the flags hanging out on the balconies. Larger teams take up a whole apartment building, smaller teams share.
When we arrived we were welcomed very warmly by CPC and given a run through of things we needed to know during our stay. We each met with our team physician to check in and update our medical information and met our RCMP officers. We were all given cell phones for security and of course, the very important "FOB" that gives us access to all the Powerade, Water and Coca Cola machines in the village!
We had two hours to explore the village but after getting lunch we only saw the tiniest bit of the village. The dining hall itself is three football fields long! They have every type of food you can imagine from every part of the world. We couldn’t look at everything because it would take you 15 minutes to walk by every station!! It is very busy and I have a really hard time getting around, especially when there are so many wheelchairs near me because they are completely out of my field of vision. I tend to get the first thing that sounds good and sit down so I can get out of the way!
While we were eating, the British Prime Minister came in and had lunch with some of the British athletes just across from where we were sitting!
I got a play by play from my teammates of all the athletes going by and descriptions of their team gear - we are hoping to do some trading once racing is done!
After lunch the one place we checked out was “The Globe” which is a sort of hangout area for the athletes. Outside there are giant sized games such as Jenga and Connect Four which you can play on the lawn. Inside there were pool tables, video games, TV, computers, lots of big leather chairs and couches, magazines and a big Powerade bar serving Coca Cola products and Powerade. They had a promotion on where you could get a personalized water bottle. They made three bands for it – mine were red, white and red. The first one has my name on it the second has Canada and the third has the rowing symbol on it. There are things like this all over the village completely free to the athletes!
They also have kiosks throughout the village with snacks for when you are “on the go”. It is all free and you can grab coffee, sandwiches, muffins or oatmeal without having to go into the food hall.
So that, believe it or not, took two hours and we didn’t even see one third of the village. But it was a really cool sneak preview and we can’t wait to move in when we are finished racing!
Today the trailer arrived with our boat (Team Ireland drove it from Portugal to London!) so we were able to go down to the course and row this afternoon. Unfortunately we only got in half of our workout. We were able to endure the heavy rain but once the lightning started we were called off. We did two trips without the blackout goggles so I got to see some of the course, including our starting blocks. We finished off the workout on the ergs (rowing machines) they have set up in the boat bays.
I love the Eton venue, it is very similar to the one in Beijing so I already feel familiar with it and comfortable there.
Let’s get racing!!