The day typical begins with optional physical activity lead by a participant at 6:45. I’ve heard they do yoga, or kick boxing, but I tend to go for a run on my own or sleep.
After that, we are in lectures and group discussions, and some other physical activities that literally go from 8 am to 9 or 10 pm. And following that with any luck, some social element takes place. There is nearly no space for reflection and sleep.
On Sunday, a professor from Penn State lectured on Olympic Legacy in the USA. Interesting enough given they’ve hosted 8 Olympics, the extent of their NCAA programming, the clout and control they have over the Olympic movement, and the fact that many Olympic controversies, both positive and negative, find their birth from the American system (doping, overt commercialism, racial empowerment, boycotts and so on).
Most participants speak at least a bit of English but it is quite difficult at times to understand. Somewhat humorous at times though. The Iranian speaks Farsi and Persian, which flows as a continual hum. In English, without intonation, you almost cannot understand what is said, though you hear each individual word. I love when the Antigua and St. Vincent folks speak – sounds so laid back and happy. I’m craving a beverage that comes in a coconut now.
Three IOC staff members presented today on the workings of the IOC. I learned a lot. I believe they only have about 500 staff members, perhaps less – I wasn’t clear if this number included board members. They showed a few videos which were gripping. I know most if not all of us in the lecture hall, had chills. One incredible aspect that blew me away is that about 18 athletes, who competed at Singapore 2010, also qualified for London from around the world. And even a couple won medals. Perhaps the most notable an Australian canoer who won a medal at the Australian Youth Olympic Festival (gold), Singapore 2010 (gold), and then in London (silver). Wow. And the South African swimmer, who beat Michael Phelps in the 200 fly. It was INCREDIBLE to see during the Games (though painful to watch for me personally from Canada), and to be reminded of his story.
Through our time here, we present to the participants on a few topics and we take part in a lot of discussion. Not debate so much, because we don’t really get deep into topics, but there is a nice exploration. Every day something inspiring comes up. I took a very cool picture of an Isreali playing table tennis with an athlete from a country that it has very bad relations with. I was reminded right after by a different Israeli to not post the photo anywhere because that individual may be identified and some problems evolve from it. So I won’t say where that person is from or post the photo – you’ll have to visualize. But it was seriously inspiring on a humanitarian level. I paused and watched folks from two cultures that are taught from a young age to not only distrust, but hate each other, and instead there was warmth between them.
The Sri Lankan guy in my group wears a different Angry Birds polo shirt every day…. I have to ask him about that…
Last but not least - a late introduction to our Canadian team in video format (scroll down to bottom of this page). I will have more interviews to follow but this is a good start. Sorry for delay - internet and time are limited resources here.
Thanks for checking in. J