13 DAYS TO GO - ITU DIARY FROM ATHENS:
Four days from now we will be down to single digits for the count-down to the Olympic Games Triathlon. There are still things to do at the venue, but the big items are behind us and the event manager Gergely Markus and his team.
Over 300m of blue carpet arrived today which will cover the section of the course which is in front of the 4000 seat stadium on the beach at the head of Vouliagmeni Bay. The carpet will cover the transition area, bike and run course through the stadium and the finish line.
As mention yesterday in our Diary from Athens, the training centre at the Vouliagmeni Nautical Club opened on schedule today. It is a fabulous swimming pool situated on the west side of the bay. Today the training centre had Olympic triathletes from New Zealand, Greece, Canada and Luxembourg train at the centre. Many more countries have booked training times tomorrow as they are in town for the Opening Ceremonies, after which they will retreat back to their hot, hilly and high altitude training camps in the nearby mountains.
An unfortunate error by an overworked technical team has resulted in a reassessment of the replacement for Christiane Pilz. Maria Areosa of Portugal was initially informed that she had the spot, but when officials realized that Germany was now out of the 3 country spot, we now had to examine whether or not there was a third athletes eligible before awarding the spot at the bottom of the rankings. The truth is that the spot should be offered to the Czech Republic because of the rank of Lucia Zelenkova. Although deeply disappointed, both the Portuguese Triathlon Federation and the Portuguese Olympic Committee handled the situation with dignity and in the spirit of Olympism.
Gergley Markus and his team spent more time on the swim exit today ensuring that all of the small rocks in the area were completely removed. They plan to spend each day on this task to guarantee that the area is completely safe for the athletes on the 25th and 26. Brian Mahony of ITU Media has also joined them in this daily task, but all of us who know Brian suspect that he finally found the perfect reason to spend a couple of hours in the soul-soothing waters of the Aegean Sea.
ITU President Les McDonald attended the three days IOC Session representing our sport. A highlight of the session were the magnificent catch-up of the Athens Organizing Committee (ATHOC) led by Gianna Angelopoulou-Daskalaki. Anther highlight was the election of Gunilla Lindberg as the Vice President of the IOC. Gunilla paid tribute to Honorary ITU President and IOC Honorary Members Gunnar Ericsson who stepped aside to allow her to become an IOC member and who guided her to where she is today. Gunilla has been a strong supporter of ITU, and we have requested that she present the medals at the mens triathlon.
Les McDonald also wishes to express his sadness and condolences to those athletes who have been injured in the past weeks and who are now unable to attend the Olympic Games Paul Amey of Britain, Christiane Pilz of Germany and Daniel Unger of Germany.
The Association of Summer Olympic International Federations (ASOIF) meeting was today, and we were well represented by ITU President Les McDonald and ITU Executive Director Loreen Barnett. Although there are some problems with some of the venues, the ITU Team with our competition and venue teams is evolving into one of the strongest entities at these Games.
Tonight we passed 2 magic hours at Casa de Espana the Olympic House for the Spanish Olympic Committee. The NOC managed to find an authentic Spanish style villa in the middle of Athens, complete with an equestrian course off the veranda. Most of the Spanish Olympic team members were there.
Just as Queen Sophia of Spain arrived to join the celebrations, Marisol Casado, Executive Director of the Spanish Triathlon Federation, President of the European Triathlon Union, and Executive Board member of ITU just happened to phone the mobile of Team ITU. What fun we had describing where we were. Marisol was delighted for us, and only wished that she could be there too. She asked us to extend her kind regards to the President of the Spanish Olympic Committee Mr. Etcherverria a task we accomplished with pride.
The Opening Ceremonies are tomorrow and with them the beginning of the Games of the XXVIII Olympiad the welcome home Games. Team ITU will work with the Competition Team through-out the day, but break off in time to get into the stadium in lots of time to start the celebrations.
Because of the Opening Ceremonies, tomorrows edition of ITU Diary from Athens might be delayed by some hours. Until then best wishes from Athens
Oh my goshjust as we were closing this edition of the Diary from Athens Queen Sophie passed by the corridor where we were working interesting times in Athens.
Related Event: 2004 Athens Olympic Games
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