Thank you VANOC and the IOC

21/03/2010

As I read (and weep) about the ending of the Paralympic Games today I have been thinking about my time out in BC as an Olympic volunteer.  I have tons of memories, good and not so good; made many new friends; taken over 4,500 photographs (which I am still sorting out); added to my pin collection; and many pieces of Olympic memorabilia – red mittens and Canada scarf (regretting that I didn’t buy the hat to match :(); a cow-bell and bear bells; a set of Petro Canada glasses (that didn’t break in transit back to Scotland!); and the gifts given to the volunteers by VANOC and the IOC.  We were given a couple of pin badges, glass coasters, a commemorative coin/medal, a stunning Birks Olympic key ring (which I plan to change to a necklace) and a Swatch watch when we finished our last shift.  All unexpected and very much appreciated by me.

Gifts from VANOC and IOC

I miss my colleagues and friends in the Village at Whistler and I hope they all had a great Paralympic Games, and I hope to see them again sometime.

I don’t however, miss the food in the workforce dining area.  It was some of the most unpleasant food I have ever tasted and was pleased we could use the meal vouchers at McDonalds.  I am sorry if that is too critical but I believe it is important to feed your volunteers properly, after all they are giving freely of their time and working hard to help deliver a successful Games.  Yes, the gifts are welcomed but the every day care of the volunteers is crucial, and food is a vital component.

In the coming weeks the Villages in both Vancouver and Whistler will be dismantled and the work completed to turn them into the homes that people have bought.

I was pleased to have been able to visit the Vancouver Village.  I didn’t get the opportunity to see inside the buildings due to the preparation for the Paralympics but the outside and surrounding area are very impressive.  The condos on False Creek in Vancouver will have magnificent views of the city and beyond to the mountains.

Vancouver Village

Vancouver Village

The houses in Whistler are situated in a lovely rural setting, surrounded by the mountains and trees.

The homes in Vancouver and Whistler are a lasting legacy of these Games and not many folk will be able to say that they had Olympic/Paralympic athletes staying in their homes. One day I hope to go back to Whistler to see how they area of the Village has been developed.

I also hope when I do return in the winter I will experience a Whistler winter and see the snow rather than the grass in the valley.

I have posted a few photos of both Villages here if you are interested.

Whistler Village

Whistler Village (with snow!!)

It’s over to you now London in 2012.  You have a hard act to follow, and I don’t mean Beijing.  Will the UK unite like Canada did?  Will the streets of London buzz like Vancouver and Whistler?  Will it rain for the duration of the Olympic and Paralympic Games!?  Only time will tell.

And then we move onto 2014, a year of sport, when Sochi hosts the Winter Olympic and Paralympic Games, Glasgow will host the Commonwealth Games and the Ryder Cup will be held at Gleneagles, Scotland.  Bring it on!

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The Olympic/Paralympic party is nearly over

21/03/2010

Today is the last day of the 2010 Winter Paralympic Games and it is three weeks since the end of the Olympic Games.  They say all good things must come to an end…but this quick, come on!!!  It only seems like five minutes since the IOC awarded the Games to Vancouver in the first place.

The Paralympic Closing Ceremony is taking place in Whistler Medals Plaza today and I wish I was there to see it because it will be fantastic.  I am pleased to hear Whistler is getting to bring down the curtain on what has been a fantastic event.  The locals in Whistler have done a huge amount of work and deserve to see the Closing Ceremony on their on door step.

For anyone in Whistler reading this and don’t know the times: the event will start with the athletes parade along the Village Stroll at 6:45 p.m.   The Closing Ceremony will celebrate more than 500 Paralympic athletes from 44 countries and the entire show will be broadcast on Whistler Live! screens.  Wrap up and get out there and see the last hurrah of the 2010 Winter Olympic and Paralympic Games.


The Paralympic Symbol and Motto

13/03/2010

The symbol of the Paralympic Games is composed of three Agitos, colored red, blue and green, encircling a single point, on a white field.

The Agito (meaning “I move” in Latin language) is a symbol of movement in the shape of an asymmetrical crescent.

The colours of the agitos with the white background stand for the three colours that are most widely represented in national flags around the world.

The Paralympic motto is “Spirit in Motion”.  The motto was introduced in 2004 at the Paralympic Games in Athens.

The previous motto was “Mind, Body, Spirit”, introduced in 1994


My 2010 Olympic Pin Collection

13/03/2010

I have laid out some of the pins I collected while at the Olympics and I am very pleased with my haul.  I have pins from countries that I haven’t had much involvement before as most of the pins I have collected come from the Commonwealth Games.  I already have an extensive collection and these are welcomed additions.

On this occasion I have pins from USA, France, Finland, South Korea, Greece, Lithuania, Lebanon, Latvia, Ukraine, Germany, Ireland, Brazil, China and Mongolia.  I also have pins from Olympic sponsors.

2010 Olympic pins

I have two favourites: one pin randomly given to me in Whistler by a girl who was from one of the Four Host First Nations.

I was walking along the Village Stroll when she approached me from nowhere and reached out to give me her pin.  She explained that she was from the Four Host First Nations but I never found out which one.

Before we parted I gave her a Scottish pin and she was kind of taken aback as I don’t think she had been given a pin in return for her’s.  A huge smile came across her face and off she went back into the crowds.  A few days later, maybe even a week, I was sitting on the bus going from Whistler to Creekside when I was aware that someone was looking at me.  I glanced across and this recognisable smile came back at me.  It was the girl again with the Scottish pin on her jacket.

The second one was from a wee boy outside the figure skating venue in Vancouver.  He was about 6/7 and he came up to me, looked at my pins on my accreditation lanyard and said “you have lot of cool pins”.  His mum shouted on him and he ran away to be her and others.  A short time later, while walking to the bus, this voice goes “you reaaaaaaaaalllllllllllyyyy have a lot of cool pins and do you want to trade one?”  I turned round and it was the wee lad again.  I said “sure, I’ll trade with you, what have you got?”  He produced a CBC badge and gave it to me.  In return and gave him, and his brother, Scottish pins and they were so excited and they ran to tell their parents.  The next thing I know the dad comes over to me and thanks me for making his sons’ day because they were the first pins they had ever been given.  I only hope they were the first of many they collect during the Games.

I like looking at other collections and my collection is not as big as some I have seen.  But I think I have a quality collection, meaning they are not all sponsor pins, which are mass-produced.  I am not one for just asking for a pin without trading.  I took a lot of Scottish pins with me to trade and happily gave them to kids and other worthy people.  I do admit that I got fed up with adults just walking up to me and pulling at my accreditation lanyard and asking me, almost demanding me, to give them a pin.  They were too aggressive and I resisted the request.  I am happy to give but depending on the situation.

I would like to thank everyone who traded or gave me pins, they are all very much appreciated.

My next opportunity to trade pins could be at the 2010 Commonwealth Games in Delhi, India.


Let the Games begin

12/03/2010

The 2010 Paralympic Winter Games are officially open.

VANOC news release


1 day to go – Paralympic Games

11/03/2010

With one day to go to the Opening Ceremony of the 2010 Winter Paralympic Games the President of the International Paralympic Committee (IPC) has stated that the Games should be combined with the Olympic Games.

The IPC President has said that they need to look at the full inclusion of Olympic and Paralympic Winter Games together.  He added, “Why wait 10 days and have to re-energise the spirit that was in this city and this country for two-and-a-half weeks just last week?”

“If we could have been incorporated in that whole situation, which I think can happen, what a wonderful presentation.

“We want to take advantage of their [the Olympics] structure and success and it is also a way for us to become integrated and a part of the whole superstructure of sport in the world.

“I mean, why reinvent the wheel?

“They’ve got good sponsors, good media support, good rules and regulations and technical elements.”

When I was in Vancouver/Whistler this issue came up in conversations on a few occasions and concerns were expressed that the Paralympic athletes and visitors would not enjoy the same excitement which took over Vancouver and Whistler and that events would not be well attended.  It is good to read that this is not the case.

The Paralympic Torch Relay is getting great support since it left Ottawa last Wednesday, and particularly now that it is in BC.  It is also great to learn that tickets for the Opening Ceremony and the sledge hockey are selling well.  Tickets for all sledge hockey matches involving Canada and the Final have sold out already, as have the men and women’s alpine events at Whistler.

For information:

Paralympic ticket prices range from $15 (£9.75) to $175 (£114), for top seats at the Opening Ceremonies.

No competition charges more than $50 (£32.50) for a single ticket.



The Agitos in Coal Harbour, Vancouver

04/03/2010

The giant Olympic Rings in Vancouver’s Coal Harbour and at Vancouver International Airport will remain lit until 7 a.m.

On March 5, proudly displaying a gold glow to celebrate the remarkable achievements of Canada’s athletes during the Vancouver 2010 Olympic Winter Games.

International Paralympic Committee

With 3.5 billion people – more than half the world’s population – watching the Games and more than 250,000 people visiting B.C., the giant Olympic Rings proved to be a popular visual component for the festive atmosphere in the City of Vancouver during the month of February.

Following March 5, the Province will install the Paralympic Symbol – The Agitos – in the same harbour and airport locations.

The Agitos will carry the spirited legacy of Vancouver 2010 forward, promoting the excitement of the Paralympic Winter Games. The project is scheduled to be completed shortly before the Paralympic Winter Games begin on March 12.

Taken from BC Olympic and Paralympic Winter Games Secretariat – 4 March 2010