February 26th, 2011
“Those who have done great things are those who were not afraid to attempt big things, who were not afraid to risk failure in order to gain success.” ~ B. C. Forbes
The great thing about the Games (and about my job) is that I get an opportunity to experience sports that I wouldn’t typically watch. For most sports I know the basic objective and rules, but often don’t know finer details. But being at the Games allows me to travel to the various venues to cheer on and support the athletes, and sometimes learn while I am there. I often work with athletes in a classroom setting, giving presentations or talking with them. I don’t always get to see them perform. At the Games, not only do I have the opportunity to learn more about each sport, but I also get to see the athletes in action. The skills that they have are astonishing.
Take archery for example. The point is to hit the centre of the target. Sounds pretty simple. But to see the athletes going through their preparation and routine is extremely interesting. Once they have loaded the arrow, they take aim. However, instead of releasing quickly, they hold steady for about ten seconds, quieting their body and focusing their mind, until they are still, have aim, and are able to shoot the arrow to the centre of the target. Team Sask’s training obviously paid off, as they have won multiple medals at the Games.
I was lucky to experience a beautiful day last week at Ski Wentworth, the venue for freestyle skiing in the first week, and alpine skiing in the second week. I joined some other mission staff for a day at the hill. We were able to watch Team Sask practice on the aerial jumps, as well as take in the final of the moguls. I climbed the hill (no chairlift needed!) and when I got to the top, turned around to look down. I have been skiing for years, but still found the slope quite steep. Not only do the freestyle athletes ski down that hill straight, they have to land a jump first. I stood beside their jump, and was amazed at how tall it was. The jump is twice as tall as me, and vaults the athletes 15 feet into the air. And to watch the athletes twist and turn themselves in the air is incredible. Standing beside the jump certainly gave me perspective on what the athletes are actually able to do. Their execution is unbelievable!
While I could probably detail each sport that I have been to, I will end with wheelchair basketball. If you have never watched the sport, I highly encourage you to go to a game. The speed, shooting, passing, and manoeuvring make for an extremely entertaining sport. The players are able to turn their chairs on a dime. In addition, those athletes are seriously tough. They bump and collide into each other in their wheelchairs, often crashing to the floor. I gasped the first time I saw an athlete fly to the floor. And watched in even more astonishment as they quickly pushed themselves up and were back into the game. I know that if I took a fall like that, I probably wouldn’t be returning to play. As an additional aspect, the teams are co-ed, making for a unique team dynamic. Congrats to Team Sask who won a bronze in wheelchair basketball last week!