The Olympic Spirit

Yesterday I had the opportunity to go and see some Olympic Sport.  I have spent most of the past 4 months in Russia playing my part in the games specifically around the opening and closing ceremonies.  The chance to see the worlds best was one I could not pass up, and luckily for me I had some great people to share the day with.  The group consisted of two Germans, a Canadian, and me the Australian.  We saw the Women’s Downhill final and the Nordic Combined final where to my friends delight, a German won his gold medal.

Eric Frenzel - Nordic Combined Gold Medalist

Eric Frenzel – Nordic Combined Gold Medalist

As a father I want the very best for my children, I want to be able to provide opportunities for them that I didn’t have.  These are not necessarily material things either, but a mixture of life experience, travel, a little bit of wisdom and a touch of philosophy.  My children are now nine and seven and with another school year under way their lives are built around consistency giving them a sense of security.  I think most of us find some sort of security in our habits, certainly with things like food, and shelter we all know that no one makes a sandwich like mum, or there is nothing like sleeping in your own bed.  One of the challenges of being a parent, and this is made more difficult if you are a separated parent, is to play the balancing act of routine for comfort and a good dose of spontaneity to push their interests or fears.  Parents need to speak two dialects and be able to move between them at the drop of a hat while keeping the context in frame.

Since being in Russia I have watched intently to how the Russian people live, behave, socialise and at times, hurt.  I have seen all the bad press Russia is getting, and yes there are challenges here, but every Olympics has them bar none!  The competition is fantastic and the people are very passionate about the fellow countrymen and women.  It really is an amazing atmosphere to watch all these people from all over the planet cheering on their own people and all the other nations as well.  I have lived and worked in places 100 times worse than this so for me it is really a cultural experience.  I get paid to travel and work with people from different parts of the world, I can either moan about the challenges or embrace them and crack on.  Only this morning I saw a young mother with her baby and her mother waiting for the father to return from work after night shift.  The emotion on the fathers face when he saw his young child broke all the barriers.  Take nationality away, take religion, take race, take all of it.  It was pure love, love for his child.  This reminded me of our humanity, that inalienable feature of being human. Unquestionable love for your child…

Women's Downhill Venue, Sochi.

Women’s Downhill Venue, Sochi.

We have several volunteers working with us and they are all fantastic, most of them are trying their hearts out to learn English, and every single one says they hope to visit Australia one day.  This takes me back to providing opportunities for our children, the parents of these volunteers have supported their children in this Olympics as well.  Despite what the west might ‘think’ of Russia and Russians in general, they are normal people. Sure there are things I find a little weird, but you know what, I am absolutely sure that they would find some things we do in Australia a little weird as well.  It doesn’t make anyone right or wrong, but different.  The same, but different.  Different in our life experience, our world-view, our expectations and dreams.  Same as we are all human, everyone has red blood in their veins, everyone!

The team I am working with here has the following nationalities.  Russian, German, Canadian, Tunisian, Polish, English, and of course Australian.  I certainly feel like I have gained some new friends, I have learnt more about Russia than I knew before I came here.  Russia a nation undergoing change, a people who having lived under communism for many decades is turning to western free-market capitalism.  You cannot change a society overnight, just like we cannot solve our own demons overnight.  It takes time, patience, support and determination.  I can’t wait to get home and see my children and those that matter most to me.  I have a new bike to help me in the last 8kgs of my weight loss and I have a super support network.  Cherish every moment with your children…cherish every moment with your friends and family…One shot!

Rosa Khutor Alpine Resort

Rosa Khutor Alpine Resort

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