My Mom and I had the pleasure of joining the lovely Eve Adams, one of our Canadian MPs on a private tour of the Churchill War Rooms, and the Houses of Parliament.
We even got to go in some of the typically glassed-off Churchill War Rooms, which sheltered the people at the heart of Britain's wartime government during the Blitz in the early 1940s, and they let me sit in the very chair that Winston Churchill ran the war cabinet from.
Once our touristy activities were done, we made our way back to Canada House to hit up the Proctor & Gamble Spa Room to get our hair done! Just as I was about to go in for some pampering, my new friend Rob from P&G offered us tickets to the Gold Medal Beach Volleyball happening just a few minutes later! So off we went, my Mom and I, to watch the Germans defeat Brazil. What an atmosphere! It was like a giant party at some tropical beach resort. They had these awesome dancers with all sorts of different routines and outfits between each set, and the DJs were throwing down. All of my favorite tracks were played... tracks that you would rarely hear in public scenarios here in North America with heavy basslines and remixed lyrics.
The highlight of our day, of course, was running into some Canadian friends: namely Brett Wilson (wow, what a cool guy, and what a cool WEBSITE) as well as our good friend Sean Wilson (from Whistler), and Vancouverite James Curleigh of Innovative Sports Limited (the company operating the auction for all London 2012 Memorabilia). They graciously invited us out for dinner with them. I wish I could remember the name of the restaurant because it was incredible. That, along with the awe-inspiring, all-star line-up of dinner guests made for one of the best nights we had in London. We had Mark Oldershaw with his shiny new bronze medal in canoeing, and Annamay Pierse, Olympic swimmer, who just missed the 2012 Canadian Olympic Team, and 5 time Olympian Charmaine Crooks. I sat next to Mark and learned a bit about his family history. His grandfather, Bert Oldershaw, was a national canoeing champion and represented Canada at the 1948, 1952 and 1956 Olympic Games. His father Scott, who is also his coach, paddled for Canada at the 1984 Olympic Games. His uncles, Reed and Dean, competed at the 1972 and 1976 Olympic Games in canoe-kayak flatwater.
Other highlights included my favorite evening/latenight hangout... the Omega House in Soho. Omega are the official timekeepers of the Olympic Games and their timing systems have been used for ski and bike races throughout my whole life. They had a beautiful old mansion prettied up to host their athletes, partners and other guests every night for the duration of the Olympics, and my Mom and I couldn't seem to find any reason to go anywhere else! Their Sports Marketing Manager, Alain Zobrist took very good care of us, and the experience they provided was unparalleled.
Being at the Olympics as a spectator was obviously very different than competing in our Home Games. The biggest thing I took from it was that even though we are all out there trying to accomplish our own goals, it really is all about the bigger picture. I think I recognized this better than most athletes going into our last Olympics, and that contributed to my success, but watching from a relatively objective Canadian perspective reaffirmed that view...I barely even knew any of the athletes names. I just knew to cheer for the Canadians. And if a Canadian didn't have a good race or performance, I thought "oh well, on to the next". I didn't lose respect for them and their athletic abilities; I almost gained respect for how tough it was. It was just a shift of focus on to the next Canadian competing in the next event. When you realize you are just out there trying to accomplish a relatively small task in the grand scheme of things, it eases the pressure. It makes me realize that if you don't achieve your own goals, it's not going to derail the entire train or kill the momentum the team has as a whole, it just really helps when you can go out there and do your job. The job I had set out to do in our Winter Olympics didn't go much beyond inspiring our Nation's youth to get outside and lead a healthy, active lifestyle, and I knew that I had already won, whether I got a good result in the race or not.
I've put an interactive photo album together for you with some captions and comments along with the photos you see on the right. Just click PLAY below. If you click on the pictures within, they will each blow up so you may have a closer look. Enjoy!