Olympic Update Number 1 – Nick Willis
Today Nick Willis (1500m) was named as the NZ team flag bearer. He will lead the team out at the opening ceremony.
It is an honor to have a position such as this - great NZ sports people have worn the Maori cloak - Mahe Drysdale, Val Adams, Beatrice Faumina, Barbara Kendall, Blythe Tait, Mark Todd, John Walker, Peter Snell, Jack Lovelock etc.
This Mahutonga (means Southern cross) is a gift from Ngai Tahu to the NZOC for the Olympic flag bearer to wear and has a great mana for the team and wearer.
Nick Willis is a truly inspirational young man, who is level headed and always has time for others. To me he epitomizes all that is kiwi - understated but strong within. Quiet and not arrogant, but self-assured.
At the ceremony, a NZ singer called Hollie Smith was present and she sang two beautiful soul songs. I’ll show my age here, and ignorance – I’d heard of her but didn’t realize she was a NZ singer. The athletes loved listening to her - a bit of NZ here in London. It was a beautiful day.
The weather over the last 3-4 days has been very hot - 32 degrees in London today.
I've been here for over a week - it started off cold and wet, but now it is hot, and the village is buzzing with excitement. The building which house athletes from all the participating nations and draped in flags - it's a sea of colors. Athletes of various body types ranging from tall giants of volleyball and basketball to petit gymnasts, and skinny marathon runners all mix in the Olympic village dining room. This seats 10,000 people. The cafe is open 24 hours a day and you can get all types of food - traditional English food, Asian, Italian, Halal food, all manner of salads and vegetables and fruit. You can never go hungry here! Most athletes are very careful with what they eat, though after their events they ay well indulge.
Our athletes have been coming and going from the village. They usually spend time out of the village in training camps situated around UK or Europe. For example, Our athletics team has been based in Cardiff, Wales, our hockey teams in Bath, England and also Belgium, whilst men’s football have been in Austria. Teams come and go, but the health team stays as do the athlete support team. These two groups look after health and the day-to-day running of the NZ tower block, which houses our athletes. For example they coordinate the arrival of athletes, their pick up from Heathrow and travel to the Village, as well as trouble shooting problems when they arrive - they are constantly on the go and vital to the running of the NZ team environment in the village.
Tomorrow is the opening ceremony. Many athletes will not march as the ceremony goes on for a long time, and by the time they get home it will be past midnight. Because sleep is so important to them, many have elected to stay back. It will be spectacular and the Brits will be trying to out do the Chinese. I still remember this ceremony, in Beijing – the first Olympic opening ceremony I went to. It was stunning, beautifully choreographed. I can still see the swirl of colours, the smiles on everyone’s faces, the sounds of drums, and staring up at the roof of the stadium, as a runner ran around the top of the stadium, carrying the torch.
I'll send you another update soon