After finishing the last race at the Games, everything seemed to happen in fast slow motion. Hurry up and wait was the basic theme for the following two days. I was glad that I felt some what relaxed while I packed, able to think clear to organize all my bags. Not extremely rushed unlike a few others. It is not easy to pack everything away minutes after finishing a race and needing to make tight deadlines for the luggage to arrive where it needs to go. By 16:30 the team were on the gondola, riding down from the Endurance Village before boarding buses. We then cruised down the Olympic only traffic highway in a lengthy convoy of buses on our way to the Closing Ceremonies. Once we arrived at the stadium we gathered with the rest of the Canadian Team. It was my first opportunity of the entire Games to meet the rest of the Team Canada. Share laughs and congrats to fellow medal winners or personal achievements. From the staging area we walk to the Fisht Stadium. Upon entering I was a touch surprised to see there were a few empty seats. That took me aback for a moment, then I looked at my watch. I had expected to walk into the Stadium somewhere within the Ceremony. The Closing Ceremony had not even started yet as we took our seats. In fact the show wouldn’t start for another 45 minutes. That explained a lot. By 20:14 every seat was filled. Adding to the incredible, overwhelming sensation of being nearly center-stage to this spectacle. The Closing Ceremonies were breathtaking. We might not have had the best seats in the house but still to be part of it all was astonishing. After the cameras turned off to be able to flood onto the stage and celebrate with all the athletes from around the World and the performers was an awesome experience. Getting out of there was much harder then it would appear. Volunteers, performers and other athletes all wanted pictures with Canadians. Throwing in two medals, and the line ups seemed to never end.
Eventually I got out of there with a little help from one of Team Canada’s RCMP escorts. From the Stadium the athletes, me included headed to the Coastal Village and spent the next hours hanging out and celebrating the Games. I didn’t think it was worth getting any sleep since we arrived at the Village around 23:00 and would be departing for the Airport at 4:00. A bit of a wait at the Airport in the early hours of the morning before my flight took off, destined for Munich. In Munich, I picked up my luggage and tagged it through to Calgary via Toronto. Was able to then get some breakfast and a shower in Munich to feel a little refreshed before continuing on with the trip home. Before I knew it we were landing in Toronto. Greeted in Toronto by media and fans was a completely new experience. A huge Thanks to Air Canada and Toronto Pearson Airport for arranging everything and taking great care, making the experience quick, efficient and memorable. It was a short layover in Toronto before I boarded the final segment to Calgary. Another great welcoming in Calgary, thanks again Air Canada.
By now, the long travel was starting to catch up with me. Eager to get home and sleep in my own bed and recover not only for the travel, but getting healthy, the overwhelming emotional ups and downs and the effort that I had put in over the past four years leading into the Games. It was great to finally get home and just fall into bed. Taking some time to rest, recover and reflect on the experience. Debriefing from the overall picture and start planning for the future. What worked, what didn’t. What will change. Celebrate the accomplishments. Right now it’s hard to think clearly will under the influence of Jetlag, but soon enough the feeling of ‘what now?’.
Stay tuned for a full recap of the Sochi Paralympic Winter Games.

One Comment so far:

  1. Lynn says:

    Awesome job Mark. Love readying your daily blog. Rest and relax. Looking forward to a visit when you get home. The Boudreau’s

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