Saturday, 1 February 2014

My name is Sandra and I'm an Olympic addict

Hi! My name is Sandra and I'm an Olympic addict.

If you've clicked on the link you probably already know about my tiny addiction with the Olympic Games!
It would be hard to pinpoint when it really started as I have been a figure skating fan since the mid-90s and the Olympics are a big part of this sport.

With that being said, I can still pinpoint the day it might have taken a turn for the BEST!

France's Marie-Jo Pérec was going for a double victory in the 1996 Atlanta Olympics on 400 m and 200 m. What was the problem? This was taking place at 2 a.m. French time. So there was my first time setting up my alarm clock to catch some Olympic history LIVE!
She did win and I did not have a single regret getting up at such time to witness it!

When the time for the 1998 Nagano Olympics came, it was impossible to follow those timezone-unfriendly games live. It was my graduating year in school and as much as I love the Olympics, 1998 school was a higher priority.
So I was not able to see my favourite athletes ever - Marina Anissina and Gwendal Peizerat - win their first Olympic Medal... :(

The 2000 Sydney Olympics were not in a very France-friendly timezone either but when the French Basketball team led by a player playing for my hometown (Frédéric Weis, CSP Limoges) made it to the final vs the USA, setting up my alarm clock for the middle of the night was a no-brainer! While the result was not what I hoped for, getting to the final was a great achievement!

The 2002 Salt Lake City Olympics are summed up in this one single moment: Marina Anissina and Peizerat winning Olympic Gold - or Sandra and friend drinking champagne at 5 a.m. to celebrate!!
I could watch and watch and watch this masterpiece all day long!
School it wasn't, but I can probably say that this Uni semester might have suffered a bit from Olympic sleep deprivation and post-Olympic depression!

The 2004 Athens and 2006 Torino Olympics were much easier to follow and cheer for! Summer 2004 was dreadful weather-wise and perfect for hours and hours of Olympic watching while Torino 2006 was a perfect match for my 9 to 5 job (some historic moments: here and The Stare).

The 2008 Beijing Olympics, I will admit is a bit of a blur, but with the world moving on to live internet feed, it also made following in the middle of the night much more comfortable as feeds were a click away from the pillow and meant daily Swimming Finals at 1:50 a.m. were my reality for 8 days in a row! And historic moments were not missed, whether it was Phelps 8 medals or France first ever 100 m freestyle win!

It all took a bigger turn in 2010. Things happened in a way that for the first time, I was not only living close-by to the Olympics, I was living in the host city: Vancouver! I was living the Olympics! But, I was completely broke!! So until the Olympics started, it was all about soaking up the atmosphere and attending the figure skating practice sessions ($20, a bargain!).

But at one point, actions needed to be taken and savings needed to be sacrificed - I was not going to be living in the host city and NOT attend a single event!!! And if sacrifices were to be made, they could only be made for one event: the Free Dance - so many things were geared together to make it memorable for me: France's Isabelle Delobel and Olivier Schoenfelder coming back four months after she had a baby, Team GB's Sinead and John Kerr being in the Top 10 and seeing Tessa Virtue and Scott Moir give Canada another gold medal on home soil. So, savings were blown up for a ticket to the Free Dance. 9 rows from the ice at the Olympic Games!

My first Olympic event - Guess who I'm cheering for?
On February 22, 2010, I walked to the Pacific Coliseum with glowing hearts! And de plus brillants exploits I did see! 

Tessa Virtue & Scott Moir - Canada

Dance medallists
No matter where you are from, who you support, sitting in the middle of 16,000 people singing O Canada was heartwarming and unforgettable! 

Those two amazing weeks would culminate on February 28 when Canada's 'religion' would win Olympic Gold in the Men's Hockey Tournament. Free hugs for everybody! Some people ask "where were you when the planes hit the Twin Towers?" or "where did you watch the Royal Wedding?". In Canada, you are asked "where were you when Crosby scored the Golden Goal? well, I was at Vera's Burger on Davie St and people were certainly celebrating! 

No need to say that those two weeks did not tame the addiction in any way!

A bit of nostalgia:

From this point on, I knew that wherever I was going to be living, London 2012 attendance was unavoidable, and saving and preparation could start as early as the Vancouver Closing Ceremony finished!

When lottery time came in early April 2011, I applied for 4-5 tickets and only got allocated one. But a couple months later, I was once again in the best location possible: living in the host city: London! The atmosphere leading to the Olympics was a bit different: the Summer Olympics are a much bigger deal, and it was obvious that the family-size event and atmosphere that was Vancouver was not going to be replicated.

I also did not have a true event that I had been following for years, but as the Opening Ceremony started with a bang (or a Bond?), it was obvious that this was going to be a celebration of Great Britain and everything British and that was a no-brainer to follow. After all, I had fallen for England on my first trip back in 1992 so celebrating it was coming naturally! Since lottery time, I had gotten a few more tickets and ended up attending two Equestrian events in the amazing venue at Greenwich Park (one featuring the Queen's granddaughter, Zara Philips and the Jumping Team Event which featured a Team GB Gold!), a beach-volley event at Horse Guards Parade (another amazing venue) and the USA-Argentina Basketball semi-final. 

Zara Philips - GB - Three-day event dressage
Team Jumping - GB gold
Beach Volley at Horse Guards Parade
USA-ARG - Basketball Semi-final
Two great weeks that were followed by some mind-blowing and absolutely wonderful Paralympic GamesWhile I do admire all the sportsmen and sportwomen in the Olympics, the Paralympics just left us breathless with admiration.
I was so glad we decided to go. It is such a shame that there is a 2 weeks gap with the Olympics and most people will give them a miss.

In February 2013 came the lottery for the 2014 Sochi Olympics. You have nothing to lose on the lottery. But once the result came, we had been allocated our favourite events: Free Dance and Ladies Free. It was decision time, especially for me, as I had no plan to move and live in Russia to be on site this time!! Would I plan an entire Olympic trip? OF COURSE!

This is how I became an addict and will let you enter this world for the next month!

So this is it, I am Sandra and I am a (proud) Olympic addict!

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