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Saturday, August 18, 2007

My first days in Cali

World Inline Speedskating Championships, Cali, Colombia.

I haven't been able to get at a computer (or a phone for that matter) since I landed in Cali on Thursday (the 16th). The past few days have been amazing, and I'll try to recap a bit of them for you. Unfortunately there will be no pictures, as I have no way of uploading them just yet.

On Thursday, an official transport picked me up from the airport. I was taken to the Mudejar hotel, where I met the Pakistani, Moroccan, South African and Polish teams. They are all very nice people, and we have since become good friends. Sebastian of inlinenews.de was also part of our group - he came over to Coach the Moroccan skater.

On Friday morning I went to see the track the Colombians had prepared for the races. It was quiet impressive. A pristine asphalt 400m road track and a shining new, masterfully constructed 200m banked track.They also had all the participating nations flags flying alongside the road track.

The first event I participated in was the technical mini-congress - a meeting where all the delegation leaders were briefed as to how the events will take place.  Every country had a small flag on it's desk (yes, even Israel!) and I felt like some sort of ambassador. There was a lottery to determine the order in which the countries will race. Later during the meeting  I was taken aside by one of the organizers in order to listen to the national anthem they had prepared in case I win any races. The Colombians apparently had no difficulty getting our flag and anthem right. The Italians on the other hand, had some trouble, as their flag was hung upside down at the track.

We returned to the hotel for lunch, and were quickly shuttled back to the track for the opening ceremony. At the track, there were flags waiting for each delegation, and Colombian army pilot cadets in full ceremonial dress were there to carry banners with the countries names. There was also a full brass band. We ended up waiting to begin the ceremony for over three hours. We passed the time by playing a multi national game of ball tossing. I have never seen so many people so excited by a simple ball...
When it was time to finally march out, each nation was also assigned a girl in what they belived to be "customary dress" for that nation. The Israeli girl was not far off (if you consider the Givatron bands outfit custom Israeli dress) - but had something on her head that I can only assume was supposed to be a Yamaka. I was quiet amused by this.
Marching out into the arena, I couldn't be prouder of carrying our flag. The stadium was packed, and the crowed was cheering. I later learned that there were quiet a few people from the local Jewish community in the stands.
Once all the nations completed their march a Guinness world record was set by having over 1,500 dancer dance to Salsa music in the stadium - It was really a sight to see.
You can see all this and more, here in this video of the Opening Ceremony.

After everything was over, I was invited to Shabat dinner by a locat family. I really enjoyed meeting some of the local community, and it was a pleasure to feel a bit at home even this far away.

Saturday was the first day of races. We had the 300m solo track time trials, and the 10k track points elimination race. The solo skaters were blisteringly fast, with times of under 25 seconds. The 10k races were most exciting. Especially the 10k Junior Females, in wich two Korean skaters made a surprise move at the start - LAPPING THE ENTIRE PACELINE and thus eliminating all but 8 skaters very early in the race!
The lap times for the 10k were very impressive, between 18 and 20 seconds per lap - that means 36-40 kph!

There was a bit of a tragedy at the 300m solos, when Cailin, a New-Zeland skater and former world champion, pulled a muscle at his startoff, and probably will not compete again this world championship.
You can see the complete race results here.

Other than that, I've been meeting some real interesting people, to name a few: Joey Mantia, Nicole Begg, Diedrik of Cado Mutos, Alexander Bont and many many other coaches and skaters that are very accomplished abroad but less known in Israel. It's only been two days since I got here, and it's been damn amazing!

Tomorrow I'll probably get some track time for the first time since I got here, that will still leave me plenty of time to get used to it before my first race on the 22nd. I've also decided to enter into the 200m solo road time trial, and the 500m road race even though I'm not much of a sprinter.

I'll try to upload some pictures soon, though I don't know when I'll get my next chance to write.

Best regards to all my friends that are watching the championships from home - I really appreciate your support!
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4 comments:

  1. WOW! sounds like a real unique and interesting experience,
    lots of luck in the races, and no matter what - enjoy!

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  2. Yonatan (Schmidel)August 19, 2007 at 9:49 AM

    Boaz, lucky you! the Israeli flag can't be hung upside down :)
    Be careful at those crazy sprinting solos.

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  3. it is very engoyable to read about your affairs in the World Chempionship.
    Keep on the good writing and go get them!

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  4. Boaz, We wish you lots of GOOD LUCK!!

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