August 07, 2012

London 2012 - The View from Here

When I was Canada's Assistant Chef de Mission for the 2008 Olympic Games, I basically had the run of Beijing. With my "Ac" accreditation, there weren't very many places I couldn't go. I spent most of each day in various sporting venues, cheering on Canadians wherever they were in competition. I think I got to see, in person, 12 of Canada's 18 medal-winning performances.

I'm now in London for the 2012 Olympics, but in a much reduced … or maybe I should say, focussed capacity. This time, I have the privilege of an "IF" accreditation, provided to me by the International Canoe Federation. It actually gives me a very similar level of access -- but only to a single venue. Around London, I'm basically just an Olympic spectator; but at the Canoe Sprint venue at Eton Dorney, I could wander pretty much where I please.

One of the places I have access to is the "Olympic Family" lounge, which is a warm dry room with comfortable seats, where VIPs can get served food, coffee, and other beverages. I always thought that "Olympic Family" in this context is one of the most opaque euphemisms at the Games, since these lounges are in fact quite exclusive -- athletes and their coaches, for example, are not admitted.

The Olympic Family lounge at Eton Dorney is unique in my experience, because it provides a view of the actual competition. In most of the OF (invitation to insert your own acronym definition here) lounges, the sporting competition is visible only on the television, accompanied perhaps by the muted roar of the crowd. At Eton Dorney, however, the OF Lounge has perhaps the best of all views of the race course, offering ground-level picture windows right onto the water. I took this photo of Mark Oldershaw's semifinal through one of the windows.

The crowds for the first two days of racing (preliminary heats) have been fantastic, full, and loud. I am expecting even more noise and more spirit tomorrow. It will be a big day for Canada at Eton Dorney, with two athletes in the Canoe Sprint "A" finals. I'm looking forward to seeing our 2012 Chef de Mission, Mark Tewkesbury, on site. And I'm looking forward to big performances from our team. Go Canada Go!

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