After years of planning, the tenth edition of The World Games is almost ready to commence. The Games could hardly ask for a better location than that provided by host city Wroclaw. The stunningly beautiful capital of the Lower Silesia region in Poland charms with its many riverside vistas, lively squares and handsome buildings. Already many of the athletes, support staff, The World Games family and volunteers have arrived in the city. The World Games has been out and about meeting some of them and finding out their initial impressions of the host city.
Appropriately, the first people encountered are from Colombia. Appropriately because the last edition of The World Games was held in Cali, Colombia in 2013. Madeline Choconta, Margarita Campos and Ximena Pedroza are all ju-jitsu fighters and had a mixed time in Cali. “I fought in Cali”, says Madeline, “and I finished fourth. I fought in the Bronze medal final but I lost. So this time, I want to go home with a medal” Ximena chips in “I was a volunteer in Cali assisting in the ju-jitsu (competition) and now here I am as an athlete in Poland. I was inspired by watching the athletes in Cali.” Stories like this are what makes The World Games special, people receiving inspiration from seeing the best practitioners of a sport, and then pushing themselves so they can become the athlete themselves. All the ladies agree that “Wroclaw is beautiful” “and quiet” adds another “Yes I love the quiet.”
The sentiments are shared by medics Li Rou Zhen and Chen Sen Ting. The pair will provide medical assistance to the team of sixty athletes from Chinese Taipei. One always hopes that medical support staff are underworked during a major event, because then their team will not have experienced any injuries. “Wroclaw is beautiful.” declares Sen Ting. “Yes, the scenery is lovely and the food is good too.” says Rou Zhen with a smile.
The World Games could not function without the services provided by the support staff nor without the enthusiastic volunteers. Though Marta Majchrzak is Polish hailing from a small town near Poznan, she is currently working as a lifeguard in Kristiansand, a town at the Southern tip of Norway. “I was a volunteer in the Lillehammer Youth Winter Olympics, where I was motivating young people to do something amazing, to go beyond their limits. I got inspired in Norway, where I met lots of inspiring people from all over the world. It is something special to help people”
Marta will be attached to the team from Argentina and will act as their local host. “Ten people are coming from Argentina of whom six are competing in fistball. It is like volleyball but the court is longer and the ball is hit with the fist and the ball can bounce.” Marta wistfully continues “I do not speak Spanish very well, but I understand it. I need to learn more because I am hoping to be a volunteer at the Youth Summer Olympics in Buenos Aires next year.”
Another volunteer with Olympic experience is the engaging Texan, Johnny Bravo. He casually shows photos of his Rio 2016 experiences, which included meetings with swimmers Michael Phelps and Katie Ledecky, not to mention Oscar winner Matthew McConaughey. “Wroclaw is extremely quiet, it is lovely, so green, the transportation is incredibly convenient. Today I sat down by the river (Odra) and enjoyed the peace and quiet for fifteen minutes. I was in Rio, and they partied till 4 in the morning and I never got any sleep! Here, I sleep like a baby.” Johnny is also very impressed with the local volunteers, “The host volunteers are very nice, very friendly and speak English well.”
For The World Games, the Dallas native will be reprising the role of Anti-Doping Control, that he had in Rio. He wanted to come to Wroclaw specifically because, “I was inspired by Rio to meet people around the world through volunteering. (The World Games) will be a unique experience and so far it has not disappointed.”
It is clear, so far, that all those involved with The World Games are enjoying Wroclaw and intend to make the most of their time in the Polish city. With the Opening Ceremony of The World Games 2017 just a couple of days away, all of you all of you watching the Olympic Channel, will begin to appreciate the host city too.