On Sunday the London Olympics finished with the closing ceremony...wow what an amazing couple of weeks. Kiwi House was a huge success, the only glitch being a small BBQ fire that destroyed the fantastic outdoor area! Luckily no one was hurt and we were able to re-open the indoor part the next day. We had such huge support from Kiwis living in London, visitors and athletes, and the staff and volunteers did such an incredible job to make it all happen. Being a part of the crowd watching live on the big screen when NZ athletes were competing was amazing, and the noise whenever we won a medal was deafening...not sure how the people in the surrounding offices managed to do any work!
One of the highlights of Kiwi House was visits from the medal winning athletes, the biggest of which was the rowing crew. All the athletes were amazing, posing for photos with supporters for hours (and treated with a beer and a pie after!). One of the most emotional moments was when Val Adams came down the day after her comp. Naturally she was disappointed with silver but the crowd at Kiwi House were still so proud of her and it showed in their overwhelming reception. One of the themes of the NZ Team was "when were you most proud to be a New Zealander?"...for me it was in that moment.
I kept our medal tally blackboard up to date - it was amazing to be able to write up our 100th medal since NZ has been at the Olympics and even more amazing to be able to adjust the board to reflect Val Adam's gold (even though Kiwi House had officially closed at the time!).
Another highlight of the Olympics for me was being treated to two nights of athletics at the track. I can now say that I have been privileged to see the "Usain Bolt Show" in 2008 and 2012 in both the 100m and 200m events. In 2008 I saw his 100m victory and world record whilst actually standing on the track near the finish line (we had just finished the heptathlon 800m). This time I was almost as close, sitting one row from the front in the best seats in the house. The atmosphere and noise in the stadium was incredible, especially whenever any British athlete was competing. I also got to witness the most incredible 800m race where David Rudisha of Kenya ran a world record.
The Olympics have finished and Kiwi House is closed and I am now up in Swansea in Wales at the Paralympics NZ Camp with Holly Robinson (Javelin thrower), Raylene Bates (coach) and her husband Craig, and the Paralympic Swimming Team. I am here until Saturday training with Holly and helping out where needed. I think every able-bodied athlete should try and spend some time with the para athletes, these guys are incredible and it puts some of the things I struggled with at training into perspective! The Paralympics start in London on the 29th August, the NZ team has 26 athletes competing in Athletics, Swimming, Shooting, Rowing, Cycling and Equestrian. Check out paralympics.org.nz for more details.