How do you begin a blog post about a night when Canada won 5 medals in 45 minutes, and you saw 3 of them live?
Let me start by setting the stage for you. It’s the International Convention Centre, well air-conditioned, to the point where goose bumps are always present, not just when there are amazing athletic displays taking place. On the fourth floor the wrestling and taekwondo venues are a stone’s throw apart. On the sixth floor, the fencing pistes lay alongside each other, supporting young fencers as they duel amongst each other. A short drive away, at the Singapore Sports School, the swimmers compete in front of an intimate crowd.
Throw Canadians in there, with the best in the world, and after a frenzied 45 minutes, the Canadian Mint pumps out 5 pieces of hardware, including 2 Gold and 3 Bronze. Magic.
For myself, it started with watching Alex Lyssov in a battle for the bronze. Alex traded points with the Korean fencer, pitting his reach and attack against the counter and quickness of his opponent. In the end, Alex took a two point lead, one shy of the 15 he needed to win, and then scored a clear point to take the bronze. I was ecstatic. I mean, I get into sporting events, I appreciate the intensity, the challenge, rising to victory in the moment. But when it is a Canadian, I am undeniably passionate. And just plain loud. Let’s just say it got rowdy in the Fencing venue.
From Alex’s victory, we moved to Melanie Phan, fighting in her semi-final bout against a talented Thai girl. Melanie was already guaranteed a bronze, for making the semi-final, due to the fact that TKD does not run bronze medal bouts. (It’s just too intense a sport!) She lost, but it went to decision, and well, the judges chose the Thai girl. Melanie was fierce throughout. She is smaller, very polite and overall pretty quiet. On the floor however, she shrieks and attacks like a warrior. I love the transition.
Finally, we ran over to the wrestling venue, amid the cheers, noise and excitement to a hushed stands and the announcement of our Canadian, Dori Yeats. Out strolled a strong and confident girl, who followed up that swagger with a pin, victory and gold medal in less than 30 seconds. Boom! 3 medals! Add these to the 2 that took place over at the pool and it was a stellar night for Canada.
Being behind the scenes for all of it, in the stands, with the athletes, coaches, mission team and just feeling the passion, excitement and joy, I must say that there is nothing else quite like it. Seeing that Canadian flag rising, hearing the anthem, and watching the athletes as they realize success they so well deserve is very special.
A memorable moment: despite being the toughest girl on the mat, there were slight tears in Yeats’ eyes tonight, as we swarmed her and showered our congratulations. I asked the standard in the moment bad reporter question, “How do you feel?” She paused, and with a big smile proceeded to say…nothing, just smiled and shook her head. She was speechless. And to be honest, so was I. There are no words to describe it. What a night.