When the phone rings, typically it is someone with more for you to do, and this call was no exception. The difference was it was a LOT more to do. Would you be interested in applying for the role of Chef de Mission for our Olympic Team going to Sochi in two years in 2014?
After receiving the enthusiastic go ahead from my support team to spend literally months at this job away from my TELUS team, including a personal letter from Darren Entwistle speaking to his desire for Canada and Canadians to win at the Games, I was off and running.
But before I get going let me answer that often asked question.
What the heck is a Chef de Mission?
Team leader. Spokesperson. Inspiration. Cheerleader. Problem solver. At the Games I shake the hands of the medal winners, and get some hugs. I also give out hugs for some of those who may not reach the goals they set. Not only for the athletes, but the coaches and team leaders. And even the Canadian Olympic Committee staff and volunteers, some 200 plus of them, who were on site to do everything from lead the Doctors, physios and other expert teams to running Canada Olympic House where the COC hosted Family and Friends of the Canadian Olympians need support from the Chef as well.
So, lead the Canadian Olympic Team! What was the best part of the job?
The best part of the job is the Opening Ceremony . After the stress of naming the Flag Bearer for the Opening Ceremony (Hayley Wickenheiser is a lovely person by the way) actually welcoming the teams as they roll one by one in to the Village and prepare for the Ceremony itself is a time of great anticipation.
The Opening Ceremony is where everyone can still win! Every single athlete on our team, and on every team, can still win an Olympic medal. We all know that this is reserved for a few, but the dream, the hope, the splendour of an Opening Ceremony makes the stuff of dreams seem real.
The Ceremony for the Sochi Games was really spectacular, at least is was after we got out from under the seats after spending 40 minutes or so. During that time I talked to the team about the upcoming ceremony and pointed out that for the next few hours they were not going to only be themselves, the athlete. In fact, I said, they were not going to be even what they might expect, which is the Canadian Olympic Team, even though they were both of these things. I told them, and I believe, that they were something even bigger than that when they strode so proudly in their glorious red into the stadium in that far away land for the Olympic Opening Ceremony.
When they walked in, they were Canada. They personified the hopes and dreams of every one of us from sea to sea to sea, for the entire world to see.
And I, for one, saw something great.