OlympicCanes Blog: Ciara Michel to Olympic Village

With the Opening Ceremonies scheduled for July 27, UM volleyball alum Ciara Michel describes the experience of moving into the Olympic Village in London. Michel and fellow Hurricane Savanah Leaf will both be competing for Great Britain in the Games. See their match schedule below.

July 25, 2012
The Olympic Village

I’m sitting smack in the middle of London, in a huge oasis of green grass, beige lounge chairs, and 8 story building blocks; music blasting from the welcoming ceremony just over the fence. The sun is shining, colorful flags sway in the breeze, and smiling faces scurry here and there, proudly representing their stars, stripes, and squiggles. New residents continue to arrive in droves, and the buzz among athletes, staff and volunteers alike is palpable.  Without a shadow of a doubt, there is nowhere else I would rather be.

Over a week ago, we left our home away from home; the South Yorkshire Fire station, and landed in the Loughborough University Team GB holding camp. The camp saw us in a hotel style accommodation, with a small dining hall, enjoying a few free sports drinks and cereal bars between trainings, and a few activities to get us interacting with our fellow Team GB handballers, fencers and badminton players. The idea was to acclimatize us to the village lifestyle, but the last 3 days have not only surpassed expectations, but blown them out of the water.

On Sunday, we got on the bus headed to London with an unmistakable skip in our step, glad for the day to have finally arrived, nervous about what to expect and excited to find out. As the Olympic Stadium came into sight on the London skyline, we were all up in our seats snapping pics and vids, and from there onward everything is a blur of security sweeps, accreditation checks and photo opps. We beat our men’s team to the village by a hair (always a little friendly competition), and it was a nice welcome to see some familiar faces at the entrance gate. We went immediately to our rooms- 4th floor of seaside 5 block A- in the Team GB area, and squealed like little girls as we scurried around each room, hallway and balcony- finally realizing we were here. We were in the Olympic Village- a day we have all dreamed about for years. We saw the familiar bed sheets that the media have shown us in the last few weeks, and the One Team decorations on the walls, and today (3 days later) it already feels like home.

Since Sunday, I feel like I have had my head on a swivel, marveling at the landscaping, introductory celebrations, and plethora of languages floating around in the air. Not to mention the heroes of sport at every turn. The dining hall is immense, with food from every region and seating for 5,000 I found out today (a daily fact from The Village newspaper).

It is such a unique experience to be part of all of this, and I cannot liken it to anything. Saying its like the first day of university wouldn’t describe the adrenaline fuelled energy swimming among the residents. Likening the village to a holiday resort wouldn’t do justice to the amount of hard work that went into getting here, and the caliber of people that have earned the right to call themselves Olympians. The rush I felt during a once-in-a-lifetime skydiving in Australia can’t compare to the ups and downs of raw emotions, the constant high which makes it difficult to sleep at night, and the childlike excitement that takes over when standing face to face with my volleyball idol in the line for a McDonalds smoothie.

And we haven’t even started to compete yet.

Ci Michel
Team GB Women’s Volleyball
@vb_ci

Team GB Schedule (Pool A)
July 28 vs. Russia, 2:45 p.m.
July 30 vs. Algeria, 10 p.m.
Aug. 1 vs. Italy, 4:45 p.m.
Aug. 3 vs. Dominican Republic, 4:45 p.m.
Aug. 5 vs. Japan, 2:45 p.m.
Aug. 7 Quarterfinals
Aug. 9 Semifinals
Aug. 11 Gold/Bronze Medal Match

* – top four out of six team pool qualify for quarterfinals