Wow what a couple of weeks it has been. As I look back and reflect there were so many proud to be a NZer moments for me, running with the torch, meeting the queen at Buckingham Palace, rubbing shoulders with Katherine Middleton, Steve Redgrave and David Beckham, attending the Governor Generals dinner, seeing Neil Finn sing, witnessing Nick Willis become New Zealand’s flag bearer, presenting NZ’s 100th medal to my mates, watching Sarah Walker win silver live and finally being close to all the NZ medalists who achieved the dream they have worked towards for the last 12 to 8 years.
Being at the games with several different roles gave me a great perspective from different angles. As a coach it was hands on being in the thick of it with village life and close contact with athletes. I was also there as an IOC official being able to observe the competition, venues and ceremonies from both a VIP and spectator point of view.
London did an amazing job with the games - I feel one of the best. I have never met so many genuinely friendly and helpful, English volunteers, the public transport systems were amazing, Olympic Park was fantastic and every event ran so smoothly with very little controversy.
I spent most my time at the sailing in Weymouth as a coach. It was the best venue I have experienced for sailing since I began my Olympic journey in 1992. The conditions were so well suited to our kiwi sailors they were similar to breezes at home with great winds, facilities and organisation. To see firsthand the 49er boys Peter Burling and Blair Tuke sail consistently to take home the silver, with their training partners, the Aussies taking the gold demonstrates – success tip 101 – train with the best and you become the best!! To top off this awesome performance they won New Zealand’s 100th medal and by chance I got to hang that medal around their necks. Excitement got the better of me and a little jig escaped my legs as I walked up! A few days later the 470 girls “Team Jolly” won gold!! This was the first Olympics I remember when sailing’s TV footage has been so engaging and exciting. Long may this continue.
My other highlight during the sailing was to present the medals to the RSX windsurfing men. It was sad not to have Jon Paul Tobin up there, but presenting the medals to “my tribe” was still very emotional. What people may not know is that Aaron McIntosh from New Zealand was the coach of the Dorian Rijesselberghe who totally dominated the racing, he didn’t need to sail the last fleet race and only needed to start the medal race. Good job Aaron!
The last few days of the games I got to watch Sarah Walker win silver at the BMX – wow those girls have balls, it is hard to appreciate how high that ramp is and how high they jump until you see it live. I was so proud to be a kiwi yelling and screaming and flapping the New Zealand flag like a maniac in the stands!!
Finally, my last moment was being at the last event of the athletics watching the men’s 4 x 100m relay with Usain Bolt and Jamaican team break the world record. The roar in the stadium was deafening, engulfing, addictive and infectious.
It is sad to think the diverse and spectacular cocktail of some of the most exciting sport is over for another four years but the memories of those moments will stay in my psyche and for those that didn’t quite reach their dream, don’t give up persistence pays off and the quicker you can come back fighting harder, faster and with more passion will breed enduring success.