One of the great sporting events rolls around again and I'm right in the action.
I work for a company that is heavily involved in the events industry as part of the Marketing team. I was excited that the Commonwealth Games were coming back to Australia, and even more excited that my company was going to be involved.
Sure enough, I was fortunate enough to attend the Commonwealth Games on behalf of my company as we had a major showcase on display for the duration of the Games.
I was incredibly lucky to be able to attend the opening ceremony with a large group of staff and customers, which was so much fun. We were all staying at the most luxurious hotel on the Gold Coast called The Star Casino and Hotel. This was the central hub for all the Games activity, including media, sponsors and fans.
Is there anything better than room service and daytime 90s tv show reruns?
Before heading off for the Opening Ceremony, we decided to all meet downstairs in one of the lovely restaurants. Drinks were flowing and the food was amazing. There were about 20 of us all up and I couldn't wait to get started. It was just as we were leaving though, that I saw the coolest vending machine I've ever seen in my life. It dispensed nothing but mini bottles of Moet & Chandon champagne. I couldn't believe my eyes!
We all left our 5 star resort accommodation to walk down to the bus stop where the special shuttles were running to and from the various Games venues. After catching the bus to the stadium with everyone, we were seated just 5 rows from the front, with all the athletes and the Queen's Baton passing directly in front of us.
Australian Paralympic legend Kurt Fearnley carries the Queen's Baton
There were many incredible moments during the ceremony, including the entrance of a giant effigy of Migaloo, the famed white whale that swims up and down the Queensland coast each winter. There was also an Aboriginal dancing demonstration, and several musical acts.
We also drank wine from little pots (that definitely did not taste as good as we'd hoped) and put on, took off and put on again the ponchos that we luckily packed (it started pouring with rain right before the international broadcast started).
After the excitement of the opening ceremony, it was time to get to work. The first week our showcase and I were located at the Anna Meares Velodrome where the track cycling was being held. We had a group of fantastic promo staff who were hired to run the showcase throughout the Games, and I made some really good friends.
During our time at the Velodrome, we were lucky enough to meet the Australian Track Cycling team one night and conned them into taking a group photo with us. (The guy standing on the far left next to me had won a gold medal the previous night.)
The track cycling was over at the end of the first week and so we were relocated to Carrara Stadium where the athletics were being held. Borobi (the official mascot for the Games) stopped by for a couple of visits which was always a treat. (It was really hot in just shorts and a t-shirt so I can't imagine how hot it was inside the suit!)
During the course of the Games we had quite a number of athletes from various countries around the world stopping by to put their power skills to the test. One such group was the swimming team from Belize, who put on a great show for all the spectators and then took the time to pose for photos with everyone.
I was also able to score some free tickets to attend the women's semi-final of the beach volleyball one night. I've never even seen a game of beach volleyball before and had no idea what the rules were, but a couple of people talked me through it and I was set.
First up was Cyprus vs. Canada which finished 2 sets to 0. The games moved very quickly and was extremely entertaining to watch. Next up was Australia vs. Vanuatu and boy was this stressful! The Vanuatu girls didn't give them an inch and in the end it came down to the wire, 2 sets to 1 (although the scores were incredibly close in each set). I felt like I'd aged 10 years just from watching them, and having front row seats only made it better!
Back at our showcase, one of the most fun things we did whilst working at our stand was to pump the music up as loud as it would go and dance around, keeping the crowd entertained and the energy high. We were particularly fond of 90s pop songs, and whilst I'm not too bad at dancing, apparently I'm not that good either. Some of you may know the song C'est La Vie by Bewitched which has Irish music in it, and the girls and I would try to outdo each other with our versions of Irish dancing. On my second last day I was doing my version of the Irish jig when I went one way and my ankle went the other way... needless to say it didn't turn out so great!
Luckily I was leaving the next morning, so I didn't miss out on much. I did however, end up having to be wheeled through both the Gold Coast and the Melbourne airports in a wheelchair because I was hobbling around on one leg. The humiliation was short lived though and after a few days on the couch with enough ice to make a polar bear happy, I was back up on my feet.
All in all this was an incredible experience and one that I will never forget. I made some great friends, met some incredible athletes and saw some awesome feats of skill and speed throughout my time at the Games. It was fantastic to be a small part of such a massive event and it was better than I could've ever imagined.
Until next time,