Greetings from the Middle East! Members of our mens and womens team arrived in Abu Dhabi on Friday October 1st. It has been a wonderful experience so far, and our athletes are in great spirits as we prepare to depart for for Delhi for our Commenwealth Games Competition.
I really would like to thanks former Canadian Wrestlers (MacMaster Alumni) Ryan Sargeant and Calum MacNeil for all the work they have done in bringing us to, and hosting our team in Abu Dhabi. We have been treated very well from the moment we touched down at the airport.
Our staging here in Abu Dhabi has been part of our strategic planning for the Commonwealth Games. We are staying at a nice hotel with outstanding food (Novotel). We have been training in a world class facility here, the main floor have mats set up for judo, ju jitsu, and wrestling. I am told that ju jitsu has just been made part of the school curriculum here and this center is a hot bed for training. Our team has been welcomed by the federation as they really would like to build strong relationships in wrestling as well. Given all of the struggles that we recently saw in the media about the games i think it was a great choice to come here. To get close to the indian time zone, and get ready for the heat we will face. In December we travelled to the Commonwealth Championships in India, and based on that trip, I wrote a short proposal to Own The Podium asking for their support in our pre-games staging plans. It has also been a big mental challenge for our athletes who recently attended the World Championships in Russia. To get right back into training so close to the conclusion of the Worlds is not easy... they have done a great job though. Coming here, I hope, was a nice little reward in terms of an interesting destination in a part of the world we would not typically get to see. All in all our short camp has been almost perfect.
On Saturday morning we had a good mat session followed by evening weight control/cardio. Through the middle part of the day, the federation provided a minibus which took us to Dubai for a little shopping excursion. We got to see the tallest building in the world and what i would say is one of the most impressive sights I have every seen. The skyline of Dubai ,growing huge amounts by the day. I am not sure if this is accurate, but Calum had said that Dubai was currently home to 15% of all the cranes in the entire world!!! I seems as though hundreds on skyscrappers are under construction at the same time, and so many of them look very lavish and impressive! I had thought that the world was in a global recession but here, the evening stars are obscured by the amount of construction dust hovering in the atmosphere. We drove past a mall that had a man made sky hill in it! At the mall we went to there was a hockey rink (Ryan says hey are going to start a professional league here), and an aqaurium/underwater zoo. Very impressive!!! I actually didnt even walk into a store...
This morning we had another (little more) intense practice, as the athletes started to feel a bit more recovered from our long travels here. This evening we went on a Desert Safari! This included 4x4 driving thought the sand dunes, stopping at a camel farm, Stopping to watch the sunset in the desert from atop a high dunes (amazing), getting to ride a camel, and finished off with a desert buffet in a fort. There was a belly dancer for our entertainment. Some tourists got to go quading, while others went boarding down the sand dune! (Not our games athletes though) Oh yah, Chris Prickett, Carol Huynh, and Tonya Verbeek all got pulled up to dance too. What a great team building experience!
All in all I am extremely happy with how things have turned out thus far. Our ladies team departs tommorow night for Delhi, and our Guys depart the following day. Tomorrow we will have one more mat session followed by a bit more 'low key' day. Our girls (and guys) are looking forward to the experience ahead, and to getting on the mats and competing tough for Canada!
I heard the games opening was great... for those unaware. the competition schedule is as follows:
October 5th and 6th Greco (3 athletes)
7th and 8th Women (7 athletes)
9th and 10th Freestyle Men (7 athletes)
Hope all is well back in Canada, and many are ready to tune in!
p.s. oh yah, did i mention it is hot here!!! ;)