My Olympic Experience

After a long day yesterday, we were able to sleep 30 min longer today, and I promise, these 30 minutes were amazing!  We went on to have the same morning routine like every day, except for that I had to have a presentation about my Olympic Experience.

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Here my speech:

My Olympic Experience: Florence Schelling

As far as I can remember, participating at the Olympic Games has always been my dream. Growing up, I always watched the winter and summer Games on TV with my family and it was always clear to me that I want to become such an exceptional athlete like every athlete I saw competing during the Games.

When I was 16 years old, my dream came true. With the Swiss Ice Hockey Women’s National Team we qualified for the Torino 2006 Olympic Games, and I was surprisingly part of the team. I say surprisingly because I was the youngest in our delegation and I was fighting for a spot on the team against other goalkeepers that were older and had more experience. But nobody has had an Olympic experience before, so I, along with the entire team, was completely overwhelmed by the entire Olympic experience.

It all started with getting equipped by Swiss Olympic with the Olympic apparel, then getting what feels like a million papers with information and forms to fill out so that you will get accredited once you get there. When we arrived to Torino, we went first to the Village where we were given our accreditation. Once we got through security, we walked to the Swiss house. I remember this walk like it was yesterday, I gaped the whole way. I was amazed by how big the village was, the amount of houses there was, the way every nation decorated their house with their flags and the amount of athletes that we walked by. Then, I saw the Swiss house, and I got the biggest goosebumps, a huge Swiss flag hanging outside, and so many more Swiss flags around the whole house. I was overwhelmed, I could not believe, that I was part of something as big as the Olympic Games. After we moved into our rooms, we went to explore, literally explore, the Olympic Village. There was so much, there was no way we saw all of it on our little tour, so the mission “exploring the Olympic village” went on throughout our entire stay.

Another unforgettable experience was the opening ceremony. It’s hard to put into words what every athlete experiences during that time, but I’ll try anyways. It all started with putting on the “opening ceremony” clothes on and meeting the entire delegation outside the Swiss house. The atmosphere was incredible. Something I really can’t put into words… When we finally got to the place where the opening ceremony took place, we had to wait a very long time until it was our turn to walk in… The most special part about the waiting was to see all the other athletes and known-superstars and just to see how every single on is so happy and has this pride to represent their country. Everyone took pictures with everyone, everyone was chanting their country name and just being one big family.

Once it was our turn to walk in, everything went so fast… After waiting for so long, this seemed to be a very short moment. Goosebump moment again, when the announcer said “Switzerland”,  I think I almost started crying, I was filled with so much pride to be able to represent Switzerland at the Olympic Games, that my dream came true, that I am participating at the Olympic Games with just 16 years… It’s the little things that make the Olympic Games so special for me, like the things I just talked about now. The way athletes get treated and treat each other the stage we get to perform on. For the 2006 Olympics, I rather not talk about my experience in hockey as we did not perform well; we ended on 7th place, out of 8…

I was incredible fortunate to get another chance to represent Switzerland in the 2010 Olympic Games in Vancouver. Being there for the second time, made me put a lot more focus on what I/we was here for, for ice hockey. It was doubtlessly an amazing experience to play ice hockey in Canada, at the Olympic Games. We performed way better during these Games and ended in 5th place, which was our goal. Yet, although we were in a completely different country, 4 years later, everything that makes the Olympic Games the Olympic Games, is still the same. The Olympic Village, the athletes, the waiting for the opening ceremony, the opening ceremony itself, to me this is what it is all about. I was 4 years older, so I was way more open than in 2006 and got to meet so many more athletes in the eating tent or in the lounges and so forth. Listening to other athlete’s stories is so inspiring and motivating.

4 years later, I was able to participate in my 3rd Olympic Games in Sochi. A minor difference I realized in Torino and Vancouver was that some athletes won medals and diplomas. I have with my team received 2 diplomas, but we have not won a medal yet. Since my dream of Olympic Games came true when I was 16 years old, winning an Olympic Medal was my new dream, that was due to come true in Sochi. I’ve set out a plan for myself on what days I will enjoy the Olympic Village, other competitions and socialization with other athletes. That way, on my own competition days, I was 200% focused on playing ice hockey. Sochi has been the most fun for me, not only because we did end up winning an Olympic Bronze Medal, but because I really started to understand what the Olympic Games are all about.

We all share those dreams, participating at the Olympic Games, winning medals and so on. The path to the Olympic Games differs hugely between nations, sports and athlete, but once you are at the Olympic Games, we all become one big family. I would lie if I would say that the Olympic Games are not giving me a sense of craving. The goal of participating at the Olympic Games every 4 years is definitely something that motivates me every single day. It makes me want to be a summer athlete as well so that I would only have to “wait” 2 years!

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After my speech and a couple of other speeches from Olympian athletes the afternoon was rather relaxed. We had another discussion group round and sport activities.

For dinner we went out in the town and went to a bar to enjoy the warm weather here.

Xo Florence

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