Also posted some final reflections on YouTube
If I could share everything I learned today, this would be an enormous post.
So here are some excerpts instead:
Have you ever been to an outdoor sporting event in the desert?
At the 2022 World Cup here in Qatar, the new stadiums will all be cooled by sustainable energy systems. That means that spectators sit in a chilled zone of 20.5 degrees celcius, but limited to the seating area. This is crazy if you think about a 65,000 seat stadium in the middle of desert summer. And it uses 80% less energy than comparable stadiums.
One Planet living. Right now we’re using WAY too much of our resources. BioRegional is a British social enterprise that is helping the London 2012 Games own the environmental sphere. I saw the Executive Director speak today, and the website is an awesome resource. http://www.bioregional.com/
The Green Economy. This is something that the UN has been pushing for years, 1-2% of our worldwide GDP pumped into green initiatives would stabilize business and of course reduce carbon emissions, save our water, slow global warming and all the rest. And it’s not green babble. Top economists tell us this will work. Also, it is critical for developing nations.
The day was not without a little fun either. Luke, Sonali, Hissa, Dalma and I went to a traditional night market. And we found the birds.
Speaking tomorrow, it’s streaming live at 4 AM PST/7 AM MST. Get up and watch, it”ll be awesome!
I am sitting at the base of the twelve level pyramid that is the Sheraton Doha. Around me there are exquisite statements of Qatari art and expression, including a dome made of interlocking right angles that covers a grand chandelier of 10,000 crystals that sweeps light across the inside, with classic Arabian splendour.
To be honest, I sometimes stand in my own shoes, and cannot help but look around and be excited about the opportunities and experiences I have been afforded.
Tonight, I watched Dr. Jacques Rogge, and Heir Apparent HH Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al Thani declare open the 9th World Conference on Sport and the Environment. I feel as though I am a part of something that will really make a difference, not only in the sporting world, but ultimately in the lives of everyone on earth.
This is a daunting yet enticing possibility.
I am startled at how much I want to help. And I am not alone! Today I met Tracey Holmes our mentor, Sonali, Luke, Hissa and Dalma. My fellow panelists for Plenary 5 and my fellow young people that will share their vision for ways we can all “Play for a Greener Future”.
Tomorrow the conference begins!
You can follow my tweets @callumng, hopefully I can get internet access to share thoughts from each panel.
It is also streaming live right here starting at 9 AM local time, so 11 PM PST/2 AM EST
Goodmorning from Doha! The balcony looked really appealing for this short video. Delegates arriving, can’t wait to get started!
So after a one-day move across town in Vancouver, to a new place, about half a day later I am sitting in the Amsterdam airport waiting for my flight to Doha! Sort of surreal but fully awesome.
Excited to attend a be a part of the 9th World Conference for Sport and the Environment.
Never been to Qatar. Can’t wait to get there.
Friday, March 11, 2011
As of this Friday morning, a Google News search of two particular names returns 2,166 results. Those names? Air Canada. NHL.
Sports writers, bloggers, hockey fans and others are all talking, tweeting, writing about the recent letter sent by Mr. Denis Vandal to league commissioner Gary Bettman.
Air Canada director of marketing writes letter.
The letter says, “Fix hockey, or lose sponsorship”.
Letter is leaked.
Bettman says, “We can fly other airlines”
Media frenzy begins.
The catalyst of this latest PR debacle, (debacle for who is yet to be determined), was a devastating check by Boston Bruin Zdeno Chara on Max Pacioretty of the Montreal Canadians.
The puck clears the zone just beyond the Hab’s defensive blueline.
Pacioretty gives chase. Chara closes.
Pacioretty chips past Chara.
Chara interferes with Pacioretty, finishes the check and unfortunately Pacioretty’s head makes contact with the stanchion separating the two benches.
Pacioretty suffers a concussion and fractured cerebral vertebrae.
As a hockey fan, I cannot help but be concerned with what happens next.
Over the past few days I have read and listened to opinions from everywhere. TSN analysts, prominent sports writers, inside the locker room at my local rink, both people who live and breath hockey and people who don’t know much about the game.
I have forced myself to watch the clip a couple times. And with this collection of opinions and visual evidence I have weighed my personal reaction, accounted for my passion and considered all angles whatever the variety.
Simply put: I feel sick.
At first I found the disciplinary measures dealt to Chara to be sufficient. It was clear interference, and nothing more. The play was part of the game.
But now, after some reflection, what I find more disturbing is my last sentence from above, “The play was part of the game.”
I am not sure anymore if the manner in which the game unfolds on a night-to-night basis is just going to lead to something potentially more serious, and with consequences more terrible than anyone can imagine.
I am not sure if it is still okay to accept this level of violence. In fact, I am not sure it ever was.
This obvious thought prompted Mr. Vandal to pen a letter to Mr. Bettman. Whatever you think of the commissioner that presides over the NHL and our game, his response was, by any measure of professionalism, rude and thoughtless. Who speaks to a sponsor like that?
But this isn’t about Mr. Bettman, or Air Canada. Understanding that the world of professional sport is driven by ticket sales and TV revenues and that the airline industry is driven by passenger miles and public image, these two men are simply behaving as one would expect.
Instead, it seems that everyone has forgot about what makes this system exist in the first place.
Chara forgot. When he imposed his 6’9”, 255 lb frame on the smaller Pacioretty and drove him into an immovable object.
Some owners and GMs will tell you that it was a standard hockey play. Of course, the league agreed and Chara had no further punitive measures applied to him.
I say the standard has to change.
We have to change the mentality that will lead a player like Chara to drive an opponent into a known danger area, (between the benches at the Bell Centre). Someone has to tell young hockey players and parents thinking about enrolling that the game isn’t like that.
That we don’t treat people like that.
In sport, we respect our opponents, care about our game and want others to enjoy the fun.
Not lying on the ice, crumbled and unconscious.
I suppose the question is how.
I wouldn’t profess to know the answer right now, but what I do know is that hockey people in high places should pay attention to letters like those issued by Air Canada. Because these letters indicate that the speed, danger and violence that sold hockey in the first place, may be its undoing.
I wanted to write this while the memories are still fresh and I can really express how I am after my time in Singapore.
Due to jet lag, (that has been kind to me so far), I am awake at 11 PM and I feel as if it is the prime of the day. Therefore, I am taking advantage of this, to write some thoughts about the first Youth Olympic Games.
I have wondered about how to start this post. I have tried to imagine many different beginnings, but when I run out of routes I realize that I am just attempting to discover an alternative to the way I really want to start. This is because it may not be the most exciting intro, but it is how I feel I can most authentically encapsulate the YOG, and I am at a loss of how to do better.
I want to gush about the people that I met.
Let me start with my fellow Young Ambassadors, all 29 of you. You are incredible people. I learned something from every single one of you. And with a handful, I had some of the times of my life. I suppose now you know there’s more to me than frozen winters, more elegant Canadian gifts than maple syrup and that my French is actually alright, despite not being Quebecois. From you, (among much else), I know that Islam has many faces, to be aware of the 1, 2 or 3 kiss greeting, that so many things are possible and of course, laughter is never out of place, in any language.
Of course, there were the Canadian athletes, all 60 of them, each with their different tools, swagger, style and charisma. It was a delight to wake up every morning and see all the faces, so poised, relaxed and smiling. I swear that I’ve never felt attached to the performances of so many athletes all at once. And I enjoyed every minute of that attachment, even if it meant disappointment or occasional heartbreak. There was too much joy to let any of that be a mark on the experience.
I truly believe that we are the product of our experiences. The texture of our surroundings, the impressions of our environments and the slow shaping that comes from our reality. This is never more apparent than in a Games situation, where people from all around the world are made to become neighbours, separated by the floors of buildings instead of borders and seas or culture and language.
It’s peaceful there. It’s friendly. We traded pins, we spoke about home, we embraced after only hours apart. It didn’t matter at all what sport, what family name, what race. We only cared about heart and soul. It kills me to think that it only lasted 12 days. I wish it could be longer. I wish that at the very least we will always remember how we were for these days in August. I hope that the shimmer of Singapore 2010 will stay buried somewhere, in everyone’s being, and in times when our humanity is tested, in whatever manner, we draw upon that light, and allow it to spread into the world again.
So I will thank everyone who made this experience special, including an amazing Canadian mission team, Carol, Brian, Dory, Dinah, Chris, Riley and Emily. The International Olympic Committee for envisioning the Youth Olympic Games and the Singaporeans for executing them beautifully.
There were many objects tied to the Games. The CEP booths, the venues, the dining hall, the transport cars.
In the end it was the energy and spirit of people that made Singapore 2010.
I thought this might be a finale, but I feel like it is only a start, to something that I hope will continue forever and ever, and it most certainly will, for me.
This is my first Mission Team experience at a Games and as I sit here on day 9 of competition I realized that over the past three days I have learned a serious lesson.
Games go by fast.
What a flurry over the past few days! I have been from venue to venue, throughout the day and into the evening. It is interesting that in times like these, when there is so much energy, positivity and passion surrounding you, it is easy not to notice things that might be very apparent in everyday life. For example the time, what day it is, how much sleep you got, when you last ate…haha, pretty much all those regular habits that we take for granted back in reality. During Games time, this all goes out the window. You can basically live off the positive energy.
Last night was special. Chat with Champions, one of the Culture and Education Program’s staples, featured a talk from 4-time Canadian Olympian Charmaine Crooks, as well as 4-time medalist Angela Ruggiero. These women are leaders in sport for many reasons, they are also incredible speakers. One of the nicest moments was when our rhythmic gymnasts all stood up in unison to ask a question, they introduced themselves one by one, (by the way there isn’t one of them in the triple digits of weight), and then said, “Can you sing us a song?” In addition to being heavily involved with worldwide sport, an amazing athlete and business woman, as well as just a down to earth nice person, Charmaine can sing! But not without a show! She invited the girls onto the stage, and live web streaming across the world, our five miniature back up dancers doo wopped while Charmaine sang. It was classic.
In the past few days I have seen swimming, athletics, gymnastics, diving, basketball and canoe/kayak. Sometimes as many as three sports in one evening! I love watching live sport so much. I am always so excited to go and cheer on our Canadian athletes.
One thing has caught my attention. The Youth Olympic Games are about youth athletes. But the Games are powered and supported by other young people, and this makes the experience authentic, and important. There is a Young Reporters program, where talented young journalists have the opportunity to develop, learn and gain experience. Many of the purple shirted volunteers at the Games are young, including announcers at events, and venue marshals. There are of course the Young Ambassadors, who are everywhere. Young people are the fabric of these Games, and it is amazing to feel and see the special results that take place, on the field of play and surrounding it.
I can tell you this, this Games has proven that our generation has the potential to sculpt a better world. There are athletes from 204 NOCs, there are Singaporeans, there are Young Reporters/Ambassadors, there are other volunteers from around the world. Together, we are the Youth Olympic Games, and together I hope we can prove that we are the future, that we can overcome the challenges in front of us. Because there are many. I have more to say about this, but for now, I will leave it at that.
A few days remain, and I go to sleep each night, giddy with anticipation for the day to come. Tonight is no different.
Headed down to the *scape venue this morning for some 3 on 3 hoops!
I attended with our Chef de Mission Carol, and our team doctor, Dr. Dory, to check out our girls play Korea in their 3rd prelim. game!
Basketball here at the Youth Olympic Games is a bit of a different format than at other tournaments. The girls and guys play 3-on-3 half court, 10 minute stoppage time, (split into two 5-minute halves), with 1 sub and a 10-second shot clock. Straight up streetball, more or less. It is SICK! The venue is in the heart of Singapore, right at the end of Orchard Road, really loud and with a 10 second shot clock there isn’t too much time between plays!
Our girls killed it, they gave nothing up inside and so the Koreans had to put up hopeless 3 balls all game long. The final score was 20-6 and it was a big win because it helps cement a birth in the medal round. Next up is Russia, which means they’ll have to keep the game tight, but the way it looked today is a good sign.
In the evening I finally made it to the pool. Our two girls, Tera and Rachel won Gold and Bronze. I also sat a few rows behind Alex Popov, which was nice. Legend. He actually spoke to us! But wait, there’s more. Brian and I were cheering on the girls over the last 50, with periodic “hups!” every time they took a breath. Apparently in the Guest stands at the Olympic Games you are not supposed to cheer. Or at least not loudly! The entire section turned around and Mr. Popov shouted, “They can’t even hear you!” Hahaha, so my first interaction with a childhood hero was to be told, basically, “be quiet!” Haha oops.
Anyways, the Culture and Education program keeps rolling. As some athletes finish their competition there is more and more activity down in the Village square. It is amazing to see the colours, of all types there. The booths, the stage, and those colourful things without object, like the positive interactions between people from all over the world. It’s nice. I wish I could show it to everyone I care about, because it is a unique sight.
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.