Wednesday, 29 August 2012

The Olympic Parades

No rest for the wicked, well only three days after we were greeted by the Prime Minister at the QANTAS hanger before we jumped back on a plane to kick-of the "Welcome Home" parades.

We had seven parades in seven cities in nine days.  It has been epic, and something that I will remember forever, a nice little momento to tag on to the end of my Olympic memories!

Each city put on there own special public celebration.  Sydney kicked it off with a huge ticket tape parade down the streets of the CBD ending with a civic function at the Opera House where I got to catch up with dear friend Susan Faulkner.

Melbourne was next which a huge reception at Federation Square.  I was lucky enough that a lot of family and friends came down to see the celebrations.  It was great to see them, and to show off my medal :) Thanks to friends Shelly, Jack and Elle and cousins Trish, Marty, Creina, Lousie, Violet, Kylie and Kieren, Aunty Gab, Uncle Tim and of course the matriarch - Grandma!!

Next up was Adelaide.  The parade got cancelled as a hail storm was predicted, but that didn't stop the south aussies gathering in Rundall St Mall to welcome us.  The Adelaidians even provided us with Green and Gold 'Haighs' chocolate frogs.  My employer Aurecon was well represented in the crowd with a non-visible John Mason, but a very visible Ralph Balperio!

Then came my home town parade, and boy did Brisbane put it on for us.  There was a massive contingent of Queensland Olympians that paraded, and an even bigger audience up and down Queen Street Mall.  This was the only parade where our jackets weren't required...where else but Queensland!

I would like to give a special mention to the Stuartholme contingent, the Chaffin's and Nicola Johnson, the Aurecon contingent (whom I claim were'nt cheering loud enough to see/hear) the B&D and marketing chicks - Karen, Krista, Joanne, Sune and Romina, the Mareeba Road representatives, the Parer's (complete with Chelsea and Louis cheer squad), and the QAS water polo girls - Steph, Maddie, Hannah and Cas.  Thanks all so much for coming down!!

Our next destination was Hobart, and the only public celebration that fell on a weekend. It was a very chilly day indeed, but the sun did shine.  Many Tasmanians showed up with there autograph books and enthusiasm.  This was the only parade where we were stationed at "signing desks", it was nice to sit down for a change, and have some nice chats with the locals.  The Tasmanian Olympic Committee also arranged for some primary school competition winners to hit us with some hard questions in a Q&A before the celebrations.  It was a lovely touch to a fabulous weekend in Hobart (plus the Cadbury they gave us).

From Hobart to Perth, where most of the hockey guys and gals, and kayakers joined us as they are all based in the west.  The weather couldn't decide what it was doing, but the AOC came prepared, and supplied us with our very own "Olympic poncho".  This is where I had my first "fan sighting".  Thanks to Kassia who spotted me and asked for a photo stating "I read your blog!!".  Love it!

Perthians came out in numbers, and Aurecon and Stuartholme were once again represented.  Aurecon with good friends Jamie and Darren and recent GC half marathonist Jane, and Stuartholme with Olympic Games trooper (attended the games as well as the parades) Lauren.  

And last, but definitely not least was Canberra.  Most of the Olympians have been an AIS athlete at some stage, so it was a very nice feeling driving from the airport and heading to the Novotel instead of the institute.  As we have all spent a lot of time in Canberra it was great to see many familiar faces!  This parade also marked the history making feat by my teammate Bronwen Knox, the canoe queen Jess "silver" Fox and myself, as the only three Olympians to attend all parades.  Many other olympians asked how we did it, I guess the answer was similar to that of any sporting, determination, desire...pride, perseverance, passion (I'm just showing off the 'three's' that Layne Beachley taught me)

[The Canberra "Troopers" video can be seen here - Canberra caps off 'Welcome Home' tour ]

I would like to say a MASSIVE thanks to the AOC for organising these parades, in particular James Edwards and Georgie Exton, Toni and Gabby.  Also to Thomas Staunton of Sold Out Events for his coordinating expertise. To Accor Hotels for their hospitality and little treats they left all the Olympians on arrival.  And finally to QANTAS, for allowing the green and gold tracksuits to crash QANTAS Club every day for the past nine days!

I will keep posting as more Olympic things come, but it does kind of feel like the end of an era, arriving home from the's marked the end of the Olympics, what I've been working towards for the past eight years.  So, so long...for now :)

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