Flag Bearer, Photos and Tents
The ultimate compliment for an athlete is probably to be chosen by his/her peers to carry the flag at opening ceremonies. It recognizes not only past performance, but also the character of the particular athlete chosen. And since Paralympians are not lacking in character, the choice is never an easy one.
First your team has to choose you since each sport can only put forward one nomination. Then a panel reviews these nominations – and from personal experience I can vouch that the discussions are lively and never short – and pick one athlete who will be approached to make sure he/she will do it.
Why would one refuse such an honour? Most often it would be because the athlete is competing early in the Games and cannot afford #1 the distraction and multiple interviews #2 the long night at the opening ceremonies. A little known fact – many athletes do not stay for the entire ceremonies and leave shortly after they have entered the stadium. Marching in is truly special, but when one trains for years for a sport event, a good night’s sleep is more important than an elaborate show.
David Eng on this photos is being set up for an interview for Radio Canada while in the distance, Chris Brown from CBC just told me he’s going live with David (hopefully) in 7 minutes.
On the photo front, millions of snapshots will be taken, and with everyone being an amateur photographer now, it’s tough to find a clean angle. The most likely scenario is that you will find yourself taking a picture of someone taking a picture, or as you can see below, a picture of someone taking a picture of someone taking a picture, particularly when the two Paralympians happen to be a Minister and a Senator.
And then there was “the curse” – that flag bearers do poorly in competition. Thanks to Rosie McLellan, the curse is broken – all clear on that front! That being said, our wheelchair basketball team is very young with many veterans retiring after the Gold Medal performance in London. A repeat would be an extraordinary feat (but such things have happened!) but watch out Tokyo!
So what about “tents” in the title? Because even if it looks great on camera, most of these announcements take place is a temporary structure that will be taken down after the games. Apparently the dining hall is the worlds second largest temporary structure, but I couldn’t find out which one might be bigger. And someone mentioned that I am never in any of my blog pictures. Maybe it’s generational – I don’t take many selfies and I want you to see what I see, and I don’t see myself unless there is a mirror around. So as a proof, here is probably the only selfie you’ll get to see.