Saturday, February 13, 2010

February 12, 2010 - Opening Ceremonies

I really don’t think an athlete can put into words the feeling of walking through Opening Ceremonies at the Olympic Games. Yesterday the anticipation built all day long as we did various activities knowing that it would climax with the athletes’ parade into the stadium. Earlier in the afternoon, we were given the opportunity to hear fantastic speech by Vice President Joe Biden. He told us that being a world class athlete is something inside us and not something that we can do on the playing field. After his speech we were able meet him and have some pictures taken.
Then we were escorted in the hockey arena, next to the Opening Ceremonies stadium. Here all the athletes from all the countries sat and waited for the beginning of the ceremony and their turn to walk in the parade on television. Of course the order is alphabetical, so the United States has a long wait. During that time, I got to meet a personal hero, Dan Patrick. When I was younger, I listened to Dan give the news on all the sports highlights on SportsCenter on ESPN. Now he has a radio show on Fox Sports Radio. He’s a very down-to-Earth guy that is willing to talk about anything, not just sports. I also met his co-worker for the games, Chris Collins, who is normally an NFL analyst on Sunday nights.
When the parade for the athletes began, but before we entered the stadium, you could feel the excitement in the athletes. Not one person could hold back a smile. Our long time trainer and passionate American Byron Craighead had tears in eyes before we even started to walk. As the walk into the lights started, I looked up with my teammates and saw the rings high on the opposite side of the stadium. Those rings mean something when you know that they are there because of you and what you have worked for.
The part of the Ceremony that we were able to see was amazing. The ceremony was held indoors in a doom, so there were questions about what they could do to impress the world, but the show didn’t cease to amaze. The lighting was incredible. They portrayed 3-D images on the floor while performers danced, fiddled, and ran around. Bryan Adams, Nelly Fertado, and Sarah McLaglin are just a few of the singers that I’ve heard on the radio growing up that took the stage. Then, of course another highlight is seeing the torch lit for the first time. Among the Canadian stars to light the torch was Wayne Gretzky, the hockey great.
I was truly a night I will never forget. I had more of an appreciation this time compared to four years ago, because I knew what to expect and I knew how much all the athlete sacrifice to get a chance to be there. I hope everyone realizes the genuine excitement that the athletes feel knowing the entire country is watching and giving them their support.

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