Just for fun, we asked Canadian Olympic dressage rider and Barnmice member Belinda Trussell to give us the scoop on some stuff that only the athletes know.
1. How do they organize all the athletes before they march into the stadium? What is everyone doing?
All the athletes travel to the stadium on a bus. In Athens, I was on a bus with the other members of the equestrian team, as well as the baseball team. I sat next to a nice ball player whose name I didn't recognize, but when I told my husband he was really excited! Police and helicopters escorted us to the stadium. We felt like movie stars!
There was a giant side stadium next to the main stadium; thousands of athletes from every country were sitting there together waiting for our turn to march in. The feeling of seeing all the colours of the many uniforms was indescribable. While we waited, we were watching the events on a giant screen and doing the "wave", just like we would do in a stadium at home. Canada is spelled with a "K" in Greek and it was about an hour before we were called to march in. Thank goodness there were washroom facilities!
2. What were your emotions walking into the stadium? Do you have any unusual memories about that moment?
Right before you enter, you have tingles all through your body. Everyone had been given a cell phone (our phones rang with the Canadian national anthem). As we were walking in, all the athletes started calling home!
I will never forget that moment. When you are in that group and the guy next to you is phoning home you realize this is all about real people and their families who worked just as hard as you to get there. The feeling and pride of being a Canadian and representing my country was overwhelming. I was literally overflowing with joy and excitement! We were all like tourists, taking pictures of everything around us. And the athletes were just as awe-struck as everyone else.
To share the moment with people who don't speak the same language and who come from the other side of the planet, but who share your exact feelings...that was the moment that I really understood what the Olympic Games were all about.
On a side note, I am very petite, and in such a big crowd, I was still determined to be on television for my family to see me when we walked out. So what did I do? I marched in with the eventers! They are such a lively bunch, I knew we would be on camera - and we were!
3. What are the athlete accommodations like?
They are very nice - clean and simple. You usually share a room with someone from your team or team support staff. Grooms stay at the stables. You are not allowed to have spouses or friends in the Olympic village, so for me it was a bit challenging, because having my husband and family with me is very important in terms of how I prepare for a competition. I chose to stay in an apartment, in order to have my husband with me and to be able to see my family, as they are my best support team. But I ate with my fellow athletes and went back and forth for various reasons. There was food from all over the world and there was a common room with TV, Internet and video games where all the athletes would hang out.
Some of us would play a game where we had to guess another athlete's sport by their body shape!
4. What did you do with your time when you were not riding or actually competing?
I was a tourist! We went to the Parthenon, shopping, coffee shops and this beach that the riders and grooms discovered. One day when I went, Anky and some of the other riders were already there relaxing in the sun!
5. What were you thinking just before you entered the ring?
While I was trotting around the outside, I was thinking I am here and I am living my dream. Just before I entered the ring, I thought "Shoulder-fore and keep my horse straight!"
If you have another behind-the scenes question for Belinda - or a question about dressage at the 2008 Games, you can leave a question on this blog comment wall and she will do her best to answer.