Sunday, July 7, 2013

Kazan Russia - Flag and Opening Ceremony - A day to remember

July 6th was the start of a busy day.  We started the day with an early morning practice and the boys were starting to feel better as the air here is much drier than in Saipan.  When we returned, we participated in the Flag Raising Ceremony, which they do for each country before they raise the flag in the Flag Court Yard.  Finally, all 12,000 athletes and delegates piled into buses and drove to the stadium which was 30 minutes away.  It was cool because they shut the main roads for us and 200 buses convoyed through Kazan while people lined the roads and waved.  We felt pretty special.  The evening was beyond description, even photos do not convey the grandeur of the event.

 Day began on Court 4, sunny, but not too hot.

 The main court is almost completed, with some of the Kazan sky line in the background.

 The torch relay came into the Athlete Village after a 359 day tour.

 The torch beginning its last leg to the stadium 8 hours away.

 Some dancers for the flag ceremony with Clay and John

 Our huge delegation of 6, 2 athletes and 4 support crew.  We are athletic supporters!  (Left to right: Janet McCullough, John Nekaifes, Clay McCullough-Stearns, Russian Guide, Mike White, me and Tony Stearns.)

 Flag ceremony dance production.

 We were one of 5 countries having our flag raised.  Can you guess the others by the flag?  

 Our Chief de Mission, Mike White in his new Grand Poo Ba hat.  

 My game credentials had a mix up and they put someone else's photo in by accident.  Hopefully, no one notices.  It's a photo of former PIC General Manager, Kieran Daly.  

 Mike, with the gift we received from Kazan at the ceremony.

 Here is our delegation with Team Palestine, just before getting on the bus to go to the opening ceremony.  One of the great things about these games is all the countries that come and the unique people you get to meet.  Sports is the great ambassador!

 The outside of the Opening Ceremony Stadium.  It had a huge display screen.

 The boys with Sasha.

 Me and Sasha feeling the love and CNMI Pride!

 Team Ireland!  The girls were intrigued by where we were from, but immediately recognized us, when we told them about the Irish National Soccer team coming to Saipan to train for the World Cup 2002 in Japan and Korea.  

 Friends from Japan.  Angela (on the right), came to Saipan earlier this year to train and play in the Marianas Cup.  

 New friends - This is Team Japan's Beach Volleyball team.  One of the players is partners with one of our friends.
 Team Kazakhstan - Anyone see the movie Borat?

 Dancing and laughter, everybody is excited for the Opening Ceremony.  All the countries were organized in the parking lot outside the stadium.  It was great fun, with lots of pictures, gift swapping, and memories.

 Sporting my CNMI Flag Tattoo!  Go Marianas!

 Team Nacho Libre..errr Mexico.  They were a big hit for photos!

 Let the Ceremony Begin!

 Moments away from walking into the stadium.  

 Great costumes!

 Here we go!  Over 80,000 spectators.  It was amazing.  Something I will never forget.

 At our seats as the show begins.

 Team USA walking in.  They received a loud cheer.

 Team Russia with over 1,000 athletes received a huge roar from the crowd.  There was a lot of national pride.

 The show was amazing.  I videoed some of it, but words are hard to describe.  The white sphere on the ride has 4 people in it spinning around inside it.  There are hundreds of dancers near the tree.

 President Vladimir Putin gave opening remarks. 

That's it for today, we didn't get home and to bed until 3am.  Tomorrow is another busy day!  I love it!