Athens, Day 7: what is the Greek tradition for birthday?

I’m not sure, but mine was spent touring some of the sport venues at OAKA (site of athletics, aquatics, basketball, tennis, powerlifting and volleyball). It was another fun day where I had the opportunity to see our athletes in action. There’s something really cool about watching the 800M race (athletics), with each of the eight lanes filled with an athlete from a different country. There’s something really cool about watching a match (volleyball) between Russia and India. There’s something really cool about watching athletes from Tapei hang out with athletes from Australia.

The team is constantly reminding me that this World Games is different from the others in that, with Athens 2011, we have a lot more free time (while roaming from venue to venue, making sure they’re running without issue). Usually, they tell me, they’re all busy – each one stationed at a venue or two – actually operating GMS. But, because the Athens 2011 has plenty of (paid) GMS operators, our roles are reduced to “observe and support”.

This works out in my favor because I have a lot of opportunities to spend time enjoying the event, and getting to know each of the team members, all of whom are amazing, fun people. I love hearing the stories from how they were first chosen to join the team, how they survived the scariest/busiest World or National Games they worked, and recounts of all of the crazy incidents they’ve experienced through the years. And then, it’s even more interesting to learn about their personal lives, how they met their spouse, how they adopted their daughter, the crazy things they see on the streets while working for the Ireland Post, and how they are busy making wedding plans for the end of July.

Day before yesterday, I spent time with Patrick (from Ireland). The guy had me laughing the whole time, and I swear I had picked up a slight Irish accent by the end of the day It’s what happens when you listen to him for at least half a day. This afternoon, I was paired with Apryl (Alabama) and learned that “feisty” with a southern accent is very entertaining. She is a very dynamic, good-hearted human being, a great mother of an adopted young girl, and a teacher that any kid would be lucky to have. Also, Apryl is one of only two people that I know who requires a jacket when the weather is in the mid-80s. The other being my wife.

Kim (Nebraska) and Johnneice (THE Bahamas) contribute with sweet stories from home. Kim and her husband are the quintessential, very much in love, married couple, and her stories are sweet and real. Johnneice is prepping for a wedding, yet is the calmest bride to be that I have ever known. It must be the island mentality (which I need to find a way to adopt). Tim’s (New Zealand) complete dedication and no nonsense, 100% common sense, approach to things is something I completely respect. Shawn (Trinidad) provides an easy going (again with the island mentality), yet highly intelligent perspective on life. Brooke (Virginia) gives us that blunt, tell it like it is perspective, but will laugh it off, and then some, in the blink of an eye.

Mike, Melissa, and Bill work for Bespoke (the company behind GMS). Mike’s passion for what we’re doing is extremely admirable. He’s not only here to look out for the team, but his genuine caring about the event and the athletes is the drive behind how he accomplishes so much, and with so much respect from all of us. Melissa and Bill are quick, extremely intelligent people who provide us with tremendous support and knowledge.

All in all, wow. I’m absolutely privileged to be a part of this. And, if this were to not only be my first but my only time with this group? It still ranks as one of my favorite experiences.

And, coincidentally, makes for a great birthday present.

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