Mackenzie Soldan is proving to be an ace for Team USA in recent international compeititons.
© Jeremiah Yolkut
By Mackenzie Soldan, special to USTA.com
I’m going to start this little blog with a quote. "Is it worse to be scared than to be bored? That is the question." (Gertrude Stein) Now, let me first tell a little bit about what this Welcoming Ceremony is. It is a small ceremony held for about 5 countries at a time, in which they honor each country by raising their flag in the Village, signifying the arrival and welcome of the country into the Paralympic Games. There is also a bit of entertainment, but, I’ll get to that soon. The ceremony took about 45 minutes as a whole and was very well done. The daughter of Sir Ludwig Guttmann, the essential founder of the Paralympics, even made an appearance.
So I bet you are all wondering what is up with my random quote. I did just do a 10-second Google search for it, so don’t think about it too deeply. Anyway, as I said before, the Welcoming Ceremony provided us with a bit of entertainment throughout the event. For those of you that don’t know, I have an irrational fear of colorful things/people that dance around and sing. This is why I do not like such movies as: "The Wizard of Oz", "Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory", and "Alice in Wonderland", to name a few. The selected entertainment for this honorary event turned out to be my worst nightmare. It started off with the gate opening and the sound of trumpets, followed by people in crazy colorful costumes leading us to our designated area for the ceremony. Then a sudden outburst of "I want to ride my bicycle" broke out as the performers sang and laughed and danced around us. I could not let them see my fear, but inside I was terrified. By the way, they were not singing the full song, just the phrase, "I want to ride my bicycle, bicycle." The performance continued with a couple of other songs and shouting of poetry.
To be serious now, I thought the best part of this ceremony was hearing the National anthem while seeing the US flag raised up. For me, this is when I truly felt the overwhelming reality that I am actually here. The moment that I have been waiting for my entire life has finally arrived, and best of all I get to compete for my country in front of many.
Now for a quick recap of today’s adventure: August 28. This consisted of a morning practice as usual, but in the afternoon we went to downtown London to just be tourists for a while. I really enjoyed this experience seeing as I’ve never been to London before. We got to see Big Ben, Westminster Abbey, and a whole bunch of beautiful buildings and history. If you ever get a chance to go to London someday, take it. This is one of the most beautiful places I have ever visited. The architecture of it all was just amazing.
Another part of our little "tourist time" was a bit of celebrity status, if you will. I mean, people weren’t stampeding to be around us, but we got the chance to take photos with many people in the city who seemed very enthusiastic and grateful to wish us luck in our competition. I always enjoy this part. It still humbles me that just by talking to someone or taking a quick picture with them, we can make their day. I think that seeing people that truly care about what we do encourages me more than anything else.
Ok well, that’s all I’ve got for now! I am exhausted and surprised that I put this many coherent sentences together! Tomorrow is the Opening Ceremony and I can’t wait to see what’s in store! See ya and go USA!!!!