Friday, August 29, 2008

Back from Beijing

Having your photo taken with the Olympic Torch is one of the things everyone seems to enjoy. We saw whole lines of people trying to line up the flame for a picture. Some were smoking it, others licking it, others kissing it, others incorporating into their hairstyle or hat. I have found people asking pretty similar questions since I got back. Below are the top 6 with my top 5 answers to each!

Top 5 Olympic Moments

1. Chris Hoy winning the first of his 3 Golds. Great seeing a Scottish boy becoming a legend.
2. Usain Bolt's 200m World Record. 19.32 was one of the best records on the books plus a sprint double.
3. Nick Willis bronze. In 6th place on the final bend and getting in among the Africans for a medal.
4. Caroline & Georgina Evers-Swindell's rowing gold. Defending their title by a whisker (.01 of a second) after a poor run of form.
5. Christine Ohuruogu gold in the 400m. I had been saying she could do it for 3 days and she did.

Top 5 Celebrations

1. Gerd Kantner's impromptu 100m sprint with Usain bolt impression and Estonian flag.
2. Yelena Isinbayeva backflip after breaking the World Pole Vault record on the 3rd attempt.
3. Olaf Tufte's coach throwing his bike into the lake after the Norwegian won gold.
4. Usain Bolt, especially managing to upset Jacques Rogge with his over enthusiasm.
5. Valerie Villi getting her gold medal with tears streaming down her face.

Top 5 Heartbreaks

1. Mahe Drysdale going backwards in the last 100m and needing rescued.
2. Paula Radcliffe struggling in the marathon, again.
3. 4th place for anybody. So near and yet so far.
4. Defending champion Lu Xiang having to pull out of the 110m hurdles in front of his home crowd.
5. US volleyball coach Hugh McCutcheon's father in law being murdered.

Best 5 things about Beijing Olympics

1. The friendliness of the people. The volunteers were EVERYWHERE.
2. The amazing stadiums. The Birds Nest is probably the best stadium I have been in.
3. Terminal 3 at the airport. With train to get your bags back.
4. The Underground. Free if you had a ticket and a great where are you now system.
5. The clear blue skies. Some locals said they had hardly ever seen the mountains.

Worst 5 things about Beijing Olympics

1. Substituting the cute girl at the opening ceremony for the one who could sing but had imperfect teeth.
2. The lack of ability of people to think for themselves and to make changes on the ground.
3. The Olympic Transport System. Great if you were in an IOC limousine - not so great if you were a punter.
4. The food in the venues. Long queues, poor quality and limited choice.
5. Having Official Parks to Protest in and then refusing people permits to protest. 1984.

5 Reflections on the Games

1. There will never be another games on this scale. It was like the last days of Empire.
2. The war on drugs is succeeding. The level playing field is helping create fair competition.
3. China is an amazing nation and could become the dominant people of influence globally.
4. There are literally thousands of stories at an Olympics and no one knows them all.
5. Sport is a great way of connecting with people across cultures.

Elite athletes tie their laces the same as the kids at the park but their race shoes seem not to be as muddy.

Now that I am back from Beijing the serious sporting business is drawing to a close. This is Luke running for the Wellington College Under 15 team in the secondary schools cross country at Trentham.

The Hockey season is also starting to build to its conclusion. Craig's P3 team has started to win a few games. Luke's Wellington College U15 team should make the semi finals and Jamie's Hutt P1 team has already qualified for the semis but will have to play well to progress.

We tend to accumulate more photos of Jamie playing for club and region as they come from different sources. The Rep Tournaments will be in the holidays at the start of October.

This week have had our annual staff training conference at Silverstream in Upper Hutt. We missed having Andy there. (he has been signed off until the start of November but we hope that he will begin a phased return to work then). It was a positive week with a good atmosphere and encouraging to see how many things have progressed over the past 3 years. I was doing some sessions on strategic direction and some on what is training philosophy.

One great bit of news is that the new TSCF website has finally been relaunched. This was becoming a major embarrassment. There is still significant content to be added but we at least (and at last) have something we can build on. I also enjoyed speaking at Matt and Liz Watson's commissioning service. They are a great young kiwi couple who are heading to Nepal for a couple of years with INF. I have been impressed by Lifepoint Church and the way it has handled the two commissionings I have seen. There has been a real care for the individuals expressed but also a width of vision which is unfortunately increasingly rare and a commitment to mark and celebrate important events in the life of the church.

Great to celebrate anytime something good happens! (like scoring a goal).

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