ATHENS, Greece, August 14. AUBURN NCAA Champion Kirsty Coventry from Harare, Zimbabwe, is writing a diary for her friends back at Auburn which gives her Olympic memories, this installment specifically about the Opening Ceremonies. Auburn shares it with SwimInfo readers also.
As commonly is expressed in Olympic memories, Kirsty often includes reflections on sharing the event with her friends, many from the international cast from her college team, men and women.
What can, I had planned to sit in the stands and watch the ceremonies but we did not have many tickets to allow us to do that so I had to decide whether to go or not to go… I decided I wanted to march! It was a lot of fun and I am so glad that I did. We got dressed in our uniforms which were my khaki pants – my new one's, not the men's size 36! We also wore a black shirt with traditional Zimbabwe prints down the front and my "favorite" colorful Zimbabwe baseball cap. We loaded buses and were taken to the gymnastics venue to wait for our entrance into the stadium. That time was lots of fun because between sitting and resting my legs we went on little walks to see my teammates. We saw Eileen and Dave Durden looking very smart in skirts/trousers and blazers. As I said, Eilleen was the flag bearer so she was very excited to be there! Then we went up to the USA section to look for Margaret.
While we were there we saw all the basketball players. Lebron James was the most popular and Kim traded a pin with Amare Stoudemire. Margaret was as calm as she could be; she was just relaxing and soaking it all up. We also saw Cesaer who was having a blast trading pins.
We lined up two countries behind Estonia, Jana's team, and two countries in front of the USA! They used the Greek alphabet this year so instead of being next to last we were closer to the front. Walking into the stadium was so great. The crowd was really lively and it was absolutely huge! I saw a few Zim supporters in the stands waving our flag. We took one lap around on the track and then one more inside.
Then Kim made me sit! It was great to see Eileen's big smile on the huge screen as she walked in for Panama! She looked so proud and pretty too!
We listened to the speeches from the organizers and then the Olympic Flag was raised. Of course the most spectacular part was to come.
Above us in the air people came "running" in with fake torches; I think they were to symbolize past torch lighting ceremonies. They looked awesome. Then the actual torch came in. The night before it had been lighting up the Acropolis. Former Greek Olympians ran the torch around the stadium and then up a set of stairs where a GIANT torch was lowered to be lit by the flame. It was incredible! Then there were millions of fireworks! It was all very amazing and I was so glad we went to experience it. Luckily, I was shocked at how quickly we got out of there and back home – I was in bed by 1a.m. This morning I slept in and now I am off to the pool to catch Mark's swim. Unfortunately, I will miss Jeremy's 400 IM but I know he will make us proud!
Tomorrow is the start for me and I can't wait to get in that water. I feel a bit nervous, but as Maggie has told me before… "That's good, nervous is good!" I am just going to go do exactly what I have trained to do!