uk | olympic adventure

presse agent Lydia Guo

The last time I hit the gym, I could still wear Uggs without being rendered a social outcast. I practice yoga as frequently as leaves change colour outside. And I had to resort to the trusty World Wide Web to figure out what Roman Greco wrestling was. It is an Olympic event … and i was going to the Olympics! Time to brush up on that sport talk…

On the big day, I awoke at the break of dawn to schlep all the way to Eton Dorney, which was the venue for the canoe sprint events. And, unfortunately, it is not in London. The tube, or subway for those less accustomed to London-talk, was pleasantly quiet. With so many locals having fled the city during the Olympics, London seemed like a drowsy puppy, awaking from his morning nap. All would change at Paddington Station, where I was to catch a train to Eton. The platform was swarming with people, from volunteers who greeted you with a big smile to spectators who carried their country’s flag proudly. (Whoever thought the British had stiff upper lips have certainly never met this army of pink- and purple-clad volunteers.) Packed onto the train, and subsequently the shuttle bus, like the proverbial sardines in a can, I mumbled to my boyfriend who had bravely accompanied me on this trip: “This better be worth it.”

We arrived at the venue an hour later, warmly embraced by venue organizers, and, to our surprise, the sun. As any Londoner can tell you, rain was their constant companion that summer. The stroll to the actual site of the competition was rather long, but pleasant. Our walking companions came from all over the world, and we particularly enjoyed the British fans – some of whom wore spandex suits emblazoned with the Union Jack. With two minutes to go before the first race, we planted ourselves somewhere along the bank of the Thames.

The first race was the one I was looking forward to the most since it featured Adam van Koeverden – Canada’s kayaking golden boy (and one eligible bachelor at press time). Perched on my boyfriend’s shoulders,I was more than six foot in the air so I could see van Koeverden’s momentous race from beginning to end. Almost immediately, he would set the tone for the race; he was at the front of that race for almost 800 meters. His arms were waving furiously. Water was splashing everywhere. That maple leaf at the front of van Koeverden’s kayak bobbed up and down, as van Koeverden sailed rhythmically, and determinedly, toward the 1,000 meter finish line.

Alas, that Canadian flag would not be leading the charge for much longer. The Norwegian, Eirik Veras Larsen, was hot in pursuit of van Koeverden and in a dramatic ending Larsen edged out van Koeverden in the last few seconds of the race. It was part timing, part deftness, and, of course, part athleticism that gave Larsen the gold medal at the end. Van Koeverden clinched the silver medal, while Germany’s Max Hoff went home with bronze. However, in my books, van Koeverden should have gone home with 80% of the gold medal, having led the race for 800 meters. Agree?

Being a big fan of van Koeverden, I had sacrificed my vocal chords during that race and really should have preserved them for the next race – featuring Canada’s Mark Oldershaw. It is probably fair to say that men’s canoe single does not have the same kind of gracefulness as its kayak counterpart. The motion in canoe single is less symmetrical; canoers push off on one side of the canoe. It is a bit like punting – on drugs. Seemingly coming from no where, Oldershaw was able to claim a bronze medal for Canada in the men’s canoe single 1,000-meter race. Canada won back to back medals! My friend and fellow Canadian, Allegra, and I were elated!

And elated I still am that we were able to watch an Olympics event and support our athletes. The Olympic spirit is shared by all of us – world class athlete or world class couch potato. I’ll dedicate my next yoga session to Adam and Mark.

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