14th Mar, 2010

Day 7 – Friday

See my updated pictures from the team GB welcome ceremony below and even more pics in my gallery.

Friday was opening ceremony day! I spent most of the morning logged into work, to catch up on a few bits and pieces. We met at 1pm, and with the Kazakh delegation, myself and David drove down to Vancouver for the opening ceremony.

I have an “Olympic Family” upgrade pass from my delegation, which gets me into the VIP lounge in all venues. This is great as I can get all the food and alcohol I want. So after a sip of champagne with a few of the London 2012 crew, and a couple of beers, I headed up to the stalls with all the general public to watch the opening ceremony with Elisa.

The opening ceremony was pretty impressive, the Canadian and IOC flags were raised to their respective national anthems, the teams came in to alot of cheering.

Team GB – a fairly large delegation, came on to a massive cheer, after a brief delay as the flag bearer got his wheelchair stuck on the ramp

Team Kazakhstan – all 3 of the guys enjoyed walking in, Olec did a great job of carrying the flag with just 1 arm

Team South Africa – the smallest delegation to my knowledge – just 2 of them! helped out by my friend Linda!

Team Canada – came in last – absolutely massive!

13th Mar, 2010

Day 6 – Thursday

The main event on Thursday for Team Kazakhstan was the team welcome ceremony, held in the Whistler Olympic Village plaza. The idea is to welcome a small group – upto 3 countries – to the games. Our welcome ceremony was with Armenia and Iran, but Iran didnt turn up.

Firstly, the delegations arrive, wearing their national uniforms and carrying flags and a banner. Next, the natives enter, wearing native dress and banging drums and stuff. Then the teams are welcomed by the village Mayor, the IPC (International Paralympic Committee) anthem is played as the IPC flag is raised, followed by the national anthems and raising of flags for each country at the welcome ceremony.

There is also a gift exchange between the Chef De Mission and the Mayor. Kazakhstan brought a head dress and a musical instrument, which looked like a small 2 string banjo!

Then the delegation wanted to go for a beer! In to the village we went, taking a look at all the bars until we chose the Irish bar to enjoy a couple of pints in. Oleg, the athlete, drank non alcoholic beer, very impressive!

13th Mar, 2010

Day 5 – Wednesday

My day off!

I was back in Vancouver, spending a day in the office, catching up on work and emails.

12th Mar, 2010

Day 4 – Tuesday

Today we took the delegation to train at the olympic park, but went by bus rather than by car, so in future they will be able to go by themselves.

We caught up with them later playing pool. The athlete was loosing by 3 balls to the Chef De Mission, which was not really surprising given that he only has 1 arm! Still for a guy with only 1 arm, he plays pretty well!

I have discovered that the lounge next to the NPC Services tent (its actually a marquee, but Canadians dont call it that, they just think its a big tent!) has a free Vitamin Water bar. One of the advantages of being sponsored by multinational corporations like Coca-Cola and McDonalds, is that you get lots of free food and drink! Still, I`m trying to avoid McDonalds unless I need to grab and go, and I`m not drinking Coke, in fact I`m trying to avoid caffeine altogether, we`ll have to see how long that lasts though!

On Tuesday evening myself and Besso headed back down to Vancouver in the car and handed over the reigns to David, the third assistant, while we had a day off!

UPDATE: So, its very confusing here with all the days, I forgot to mention the Team GB Welcome Ceremony!

TEAM GB WELCOME CEREMONY

   

 

I arrived to see the Great Britain team all kitted out in pretty cool looking team gear, those in wheelchairs had Union Jack flags on the wheels and I am going to have to get hold of one of their hats somehow. I asked if I could join their welcome ceremony and they said of course, and they gave me one of those inflatable tubes with the GB paralympic tem logo. I had a chat with Tanya - the Chef De Mission and with some of the downhill team.

12th Mar, 2010

Day 3 – Monday

Monday was a day of discovery!

After a good cooked breakfast in workforce dining (phew, I no longer think of workflow!), myself and Besso met up with the Kazakhstan delegation in the Chef De Mission`s office and bedroom. We discussed matters such as which events our athlete, Oleg, would be entering, dates of events and meetings, and how to use a mobile phone.

I think drove them up to the olympic park, where the cross country events are held. We took the keys to the Kazakhstan wax cabin (a cabin to wax skis in, not a cabin made of wax!) and gave the delegation a tour around the park. Slightly hampered by our accreditation not giving us permission to enter most of the athlete areas, we managed to blag our way in most of the time! We are pretty essential to our delegation as only Konstantine, the Chef De Mission, can speak a little English. I dont speak much Russian, but I can generally interpret for them.

As it was July weather, we took a stroll around Whistler village, showing the delegation the shops, bars, medals plaza, and I saw the memorial to the Georgian luger who died on a training run for the first time.

The evening was spent with the coach in the polyclinic, who suddenly, on discovering free unlimited health care, has developed strains in both his legs, needs some new glasses and has been booked in for a full medical next week!

9th Mar, 2010

Day 2 – Sunday

The adventure all really started for me, I skytrained into the Vancouver Olympic village and grabbed a quick steak breakfast in the workforce dining hall (it was actually lunch, since it was steak and it was noon, but it was my first meal of the day, so it was breakfast).

I then headed to the ‘Welcome Centre’, where every athlete is lucky enough to have their baggage x-rayed and everyone goes through a metal detector before entering the olympic village. I received my instructions on who to pickup and a laminated Kazakhstan flag, then took a car to the airport to pickup the Kazakhstan Chef de Mission – Viktor. After waiting for the delayed Frankfurt plane for 30 minutes, I got a call from a guy in baggage reclaim saying he had my delegate – Constantine. What happened to Viktor? Turns out he was sick. A second call a few minutes later revealed that actually the whole Kazakh delegation had arrived – 3 people! I wasnt expecting the athlete and coach too, as well as all their luggage, so that was the first surprise!

We had a quick photo session, during which the Kazakh athlete attempted to have his photo taken with as many girls as possible! Fortunately, the 7 seater GMC Acadia swallowed all their bags, skis and vodka (2 bags full of vodka alone! Really!). We then spent the 30 minute ride to the Vancouver village admiring the views of Vancouver, the decorations on Cambie street, and the GPS screen in the car! We also established that KAZ-KOM pay as you go phones probably dont work in Canada. Only the Chef de Mission speaks a little English, and my Russian and Kazakh are slightly non-existent, so it was an interesting car journey.

Upon arrival, I took the Chef de Mission to his DRM meeting. I cant remember what DRM stands for, and since it doesn’t matter now I`m not going to look it up, but its basically when the Chef registers all the athletes for their events and does lots of bureaucratic formal and incredibly important stuff. While this was occurring, I grabbed lunch and the Kazakh athlete unsuccessfully chatted up the DRM manager, in Russian.

During the afternoon, Besso, another NPC assistant allocated to Kazakhstan, arrived in the Vancouver village. Besso turns out to be incredibly useful as he speaks fluent Russian. After some more paperwork I picked up the teams allocated car – an identical GMC Acadia, and we moved all their baggage into it and headed up to Whistler. Even with Besso sitting in the 3rd row, we still managed to fit everything in! I cranked up the heating so everyone fell asleep for the journey up to Whistler. Except me.

Upon arrival at Whistler, we went through security, sorted out the keys to the athletes accomodation, drove 10km into Whistler main village to get Bessos room keys and had a midnight snack in the Whistler workforce dining (ok I actually wrote workflow then instead of workforce, tragic eh!).

9th Mar, 2010

Day 1 – Saturday

An easy day! We took Elisa’s car up to Whistler with all my baggage and of course, my snowboard, and I attended a training session on the welcome ceremonies and the 3pm NPC assistants daily briefing. I also checked into my accomodation in the athletes village and had dinner with my housemates in the workforce dining hall – a 3 course meal including pasta, rice and lamb! We then headed back to Vancouver as I would start in the Vancouver Olympic village on Sunday.
8th Jan, 2008

Quick Update

Well since I last wrote something lots has happened, and to be quite frank, the internet in africa is more pants than a pants shop, so i wont be writing this for long!

Heres the highlights:

Lilongwe: meeting daring dave, market

Blantyre: Doogles, climbing Mt. Mulange with Dave, Tatty and Angie

Xmas Day: 4 hours waiting in bus station, 5 ours crammed in bus on pothole road, ended up in the lovely town of Gurue. traditional chicken and chips dinner

Gurue: climbing mt. Namuli, staying with village chief in mountains, drinking their home made beer (yuk!), waterfall.

Cuamba: 11 train ride cross country to Nampula in bunks

Ilha de Mozambique: new years eve spent in style in the local barn-disco with lots of foreigners and lots of locals.

Nampula: relaxing in the lake, before flying back to Dar.

Zanzibar: chilling on the beach!

I`m off to Canada tomorrow!

15th Dec, 2007

Mushroom Farm & Mzuzu

After 2 days lazing at Chitimba beach, I met up with BJ and Tom from Melbourne and we made the 15km slog up hill to the Mushroom farm, and took a walk to Livingstonia and some waterfalls.

Met a bit of a crowd at the Mushroom farm, where i stayed in a cliff top tent overlooking lake Malawi and the mountains for 2 nights, eating wonderful vegetarian food and consuming large amounts of ”green” (carlsberg). Then we all crammed ourselves into the back of Elizabeth`s landy for a 3 hour drive to Mzuzu – broken up by a brief trip to chitimba beach to pick up our bags, and drink a couple of bottles of green!

Spent last night in Moozoozoo in Mzuzu and consumed rather alot of green and special – Peter is being taken to hospital as we speak, fingers crossed he`s gonna be ok! off to Nkata bay as soon as i get my act together!

15th Dec, 2007

to Malawi!

27 hour bus journey, split 20 hours in with a 4 hour sleep in a $2 hotel… nice! al-jazera restuarant – dont try the chicken and chips. got to Mbeya at 8am and after 2 minibus journeys which had about 50 people in a 20 seater vehicle, arrived near the Songwe border with Malawi. Got a bike taxi to the border, then walked over the 500m of no mans land to Malawi immigration.

another minibus ride to Karonga, where the only cash machine within 4 hours drive was – it was broken! good job i changed enough at the border. Down to Chitimba beach – paradise!

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