Sunday, July 27, 2014

My 1st Week at the 2014 XX Commonwealth Games

Normally I'd try and get updates out sooner but aside from the occasional tweet, instagram, and FB status update I tried to stay offline and focused on my competition.

This is my first major multi-sport event I've ever attended as an athlete and the experience is amazing. Not sure how to describe it really. You're in a city with an entire village setup for athletes, with venues specially built or retrofitted for all the events and thousands of volunteers, and it's all there for this massive event that you're representing your country for. Awesome.

Getting here was a bit of an adventure... it all started with a ferry ride into Vancouver, a flight to Toronto, a flight to Dublin, a flight to Glasgow, and a car ride to the Glasgow athlete village. Once at the village I went through security (security is everywhere, but more on that in a minute) and walked through the athlete village to the Team Canada office and lounge where I could figure out what I was doing and where I needed to go. I met up with fellow shooters who took me to the massive food area to feed all the athletes and I got something to eat. The selection of food is awesome and you just have whatever you want. By this point I'd been up a long time, I wasn't really able to sleep on the plane due to the aisle seats I was in so I maybe got an hour in on the Toronto to Dublin flight. About an hour before the athlete parade for the opening ceremonies I was starting to feel all the energy and excitement getting ready for the opening ceremonies. Sleep would have to wait... this was way too much fun and important to feel any sort of tiredness.

The opening ceremonies... I've seen them on TV for Commonwealth Games and for the Olympics but being a part of it is something else. When you see all the countries lining up and you're with your own team, not just your own sport team but "Team Canada" for all the sports... awesome. Outside of Celtic Park before we went in and our flag bearer Susan Nattrass had been given our Canadian flag we broke out in O Canada. Then you walk in and they announce you and everyone is cheering. The Queen is there... It's all awesome. So awesome.

Starting our walk into the Commonwealth Games opening ceremonies

The Queen watching Commonwealth Games Federation president
Prince Imran try and open the Queen's baton!

After the opening ceremonies were over it was all about catching the last shuttle bus out to Dundee where we would stay at the satellite village. This was a 2 hour bus ride and I still hadn't really slept. Once we got to our hotel the entire bus goes through a security checkpoint. Then once we get to the athlete village which is basically a hotel that had been taken over for 1 of the 2 athlete villages in Dundee. Literally a security fence is around the entire grounds of the hotel so nobody can get close. Even getting to the hotel you need to go through typical airport procedures (bags get scanned and you walk through a metal detector). I think our village alone has at least 30 police at any time keeping us safe. Our satellite athlete village has a gym, pool, athlete lounge, and lots of food... lots! Snacks, water and juice coolers everywhere plus so much more.

Dundee athlete village sign

After arriving to the Dundee athlete village 36 hrs after leaving Vancouver, my head hit the pillow and I was out for 10 hrs. I woke up at 1pm the next day and probably could have slept longer. ;)

I spent the next couple days figuring out where everything is and wandering around Dundee a bit. My competition day was July 26th so I had a couple days to get my internal clock reset to Scotland time.

The day before I was scheduled to compete I had pre-event training (PET) which is time set for everyone competing to be able to shoot from their assigned position. This all went well and I was feeling really good about shooting the next day. Earlier on the 25th, I got to watch the Women's 10m pistol Finals which set an expectation what the shooting venue would be like for when I was competing. Congrats to my teammate Dorothy Ludwig for getting the bronze in this event! Shooting at Commonwealth Games is way bigger than shooting at any of the ISSF World Cups I've competed at, you have thousands of fans in attendance watching, TV cameras, an announcer who is getting the crowd fired up with the usual "Anybody from Scotland here today!?"type questions. Watching this gave me a good idea of what to expect on my competition day.

Competition day.. I did good but had a couple of mistakes which cost me making it out of the Qualifiers and into Finals. All in all I'm very happy with how I did given the scale of the event and overall just how the competition felt. It was way easier than my competitions in Munich, Maribor, or Beijing in the 7 weeks leading up to these Games. Easier may not be the right word, I felt a lot more 'comfortable' and that makes a huge difference. The way for me to get better at this is to shoot at internationals events. Each event I pick up more experience and learn more about myself and how I can aim for peak performance. My result was 560/600, my 2nd highest international competition score. I'm happy I'm slowly getting my performance average trending higher with each competition.

Rhodney Allen (L), Me in the middle, and Jonathan Patron (R)
Thanks @ShootingApps for the photo!

I'm staying at the Dundee athlete village for a few more days while the other shooting events wrap up and then I'll move to the main Glasgow athlete village.

More updates to this blog will come but also feel free to follow me here, here, here, and here for other updates and photos etc.

Friday, July 18, 2014

Only a few days until the 2014 XX Commonwealth Games

It was great to get home last week from my trip to compete in China for the ISSF World Cup in Beijing. That was my first time there and I really enjoyed getting to see as much of Beijing as I could. I made it to the Badaling and Mutianyu sections of the Great Wall (almost nobody was at Mutianyu when I visited!), the Temple of Heaven, Tiananmen Square, Forbidden City, and got to see many of the 2008 Summer Olympics legacy venues in the Olympic Green. Photos from my China trip can be found on Facebook, Google+, and Instagram. Follow me to get the latest from Glasgow next week... I'll be doing lots of updates!

I'm flying out on July 22 to Glasgow out of Vancouver with stops in Toronto and Dublin. I'll get in to Glasgow in the afternoon and day of the Commonwealth Games opening ceremonies. Between YVR, YYZ, DUB, and GLA I'll need to get some sleep in because it'll probably be pretty hectic and non-stop once I arrive on the afternoon of the 23rd.

All schedule and results info will be on the Glasgow 2014 website and here is a direct link to the shooting schedule. I'm scheduled to shoot on the 26th and it will be around midnight back in Pacific timezone if you plan to stay up and watch! ;)

Sunday, July 6, 2014

First time in China and my second highest World Cup score to date!

I arrived in Beijing a few days ago after a long 11hr flight from Vancouver. I hadn't really gotten a chance to rest much after getting home from the back to back World Cup stages in Germany and Slovenia on June 22nd. That Europe trip was followed by a short work trip to San Francisco almost immediately after getting back. Its been a very busy year and still lots more coming up with the Commonwealth Games in a couple weeks and the quadrennial ISSF World Championships in September and the Championship of the Americas in October.

Arriving in Beijing I had 2 main themes I kept hearing from people who had been here before; the food and the air quality. So far the food has been amazing! The air quality though I noticed the moment I got off the plane and looked out the airport window (my 'window seat' on the plane had no actual window -- seat 19A on a 777). Smoggy and humid and irritating my throat. That was Day 1 and I was missing the fresh Pacific Northwest air and the blue skies!

You don't notice the hazy smog indoors too much in smaller rooms but if you go into large indoor spaces you can see the glowing haze around the lights. The indoor 10m range at the Beijing Shooting Range Hall is big enough where you can see it indoors.

10m indoor range at the Beijing Shooting Range Hall
Legacy venue from the 2008 Olympic Summer Games

I shot my 2nd best ISSF World Cup score to date, my best score being shot earlier this year at Fort Benning. I'm happy with the way I shot here in Beijing and definitely continue to learn a lot from other shooters and in my own discovery. You always want to do better but... on the international scene, I'm still very new having gotten half of my international competition experience within the last 4 weeks. I'm learning lots and will continue to adapt and make changes to improve my performance.

I've been able to make it out to do some sightseeing and planning on visiting a couple locations of the Great Wall tomorrow!

Visited Tiananmen Square
At the Temple of Heaven

A little over 2 weeks until the 2014 XX Commonwealth Games in Glasgow, Scotland! Great to hear that Canadian shooting legend Susan Nattrass was named Canada's flag bearer!