The RMC contingent has landed safely in China. Darren Cates, Director of Athletics, and Steve Leknois, Men’s Volleyball coach were with the first group to arrive. Tae Kwon Do, coach Joel Ridley, and and his fighter, OCdt Jason Song arrived a few days later. Over 13,000 athletes and coaches reside in the athlete’s village.
Men’s Volleyball won their first match 3-1 vs Switzerland. TKD doesn’t start for a few days.
Magic and Memorable night in Shen Zhen
By: Darren Cates
There are times in my life when I stop and say WOW – how did I get here? Last night was one of them and is truly an experience I will never forget. I don’t think I am a good enough writer to capture all of thoughts, feelings and observations of last night’s opening ceremonies but I will try.
At 5:00 we loaded buses to attend the opening ceremonies of the event. Nearly 13,000 athletes loaded buses and they then travelled nearly an hour to the stadium for the opening ceremonies. There were apparently 2,000 buses to transport everyone and they closed a 5 lane highway and all the city streets we had to take so that the buses were not delayed. Can you imagine? It was quite a sight to see bus after bus after bus just flying by. It helped that they made the day a holiday in Shenzhen. Everyone was off work and everything was closed.
When we were on city streets, they were absolutely packed on both sides of people just waving to us and clapping. There were easily a few million along the way. When I asked my translator (who I have developed a pretty good friendship with as I rely on him so much) if the people were forced to be there he laughed and said no, they just wanted to be part of it. This alone was humbling.
When we arrived at the stadium which is right on the water across from Hong Kong, they very efficiently moved all of us into “ready position”. In order to get there it was quite a long walk but all along the way there were Chinese people lining the way, cheering clapping, asking for high fives. Security personnel made a human fence along the entire mile and a half route linking shoulders so the spectators couldn’t get to us. We (Canada) handed out pins, flags and even hats and thus we were very popular.
Once we got to the staging area we had to wait about 45 minutes until the ceremonies started and then we marched into the stadium during the parade of nations. (We are fortunate that Canada starts with a C as we didn’t have to wait that long!). What a feeling to walk into a stadium of 60,000 people waving a Canadian flag as part of the Canadian team. I didn’t want that walk to end and the cheer for us was deafening. Many of our athletes started throwing their baseball hats to the crowd and everyone joined suit. After we marched through the stadium they showed us to our seats and they had a very sizeable loot bag waiting there for us. It was VERY hot (46 celcius) but they had a constant supply of water available. In the parade of nations, every country marched in one at a time with their flag. They went in alphabetical order except for China who went last. They have over 800 athletes here and the cheer for them was deafening. Possibly the loudest and longest cheering I have ever heard.
You can imagine that with the Chinese President Hu Jintao present they were going to put on a show and what a show it was. It was on par or even exceeded Olympic Games opening ceremonies. They had a massive TV screen that could slide back and forth, rotate, spin, do anything they wanted and it is made up of 100’s of jumbotrons. They had hundreds of thousands of dancers, singers, flag bearers, performers. It was like a cirque show, concert, light show, and parade all in one. It was simply the most spectacular event I have ever attended. I can’t imagine the bill they have for that event! (They staged a full dress rehearsal four times including using high school students to practice the busing!)
If you get a minute go to http://www.sz2011.org/Universiade/photos/photosub/25454.shtml and cycle through some of the pictures. I am sure it will give you a better idea of the size, scope and splendour of the event. All of the athletes were amazed and even though it was a late night (we got back at 1:00 a.m.) it was undoubtedly worth it.