It’s only been three days since I’ve returned from the Congo, but it still feels like a lifetime ago. There are things I miss when I get back from bigger meets like this one – the teammates I rarely get to see, meeting so many new people, the feeling of pride that comes with competing for Ghana on an international level – just to name a few.
Overall, my time Brazzaville, Congo was OK at best. A lot of things didn’t go as expected, but I’ve learned over time to just roll with the punches and make the best of every opportunity I’m given.
Of course, the first step to any track meet is making sure I haven’t forgotten to pack anything and being on time for my flight. Whenever I can (usually when I’m traveling alone), I like to get to the airport 3 hours ahead of time, just to be on the safe side. Despite the promise of WiFi in the Games Village, I still made sure my laptop was stocked with TV shows and movies that I could watch just in case I couldn’t get online. I’m glad I did because as suspected, there was no wifi to be found when I arrived.
The arrival process was a lot easier than expected.
Sometimes, there can be trouble with visas, especially if they’re supposed to be given ‘on arrival’, but the immigration officers were expecting us and we were through to get our luggage in a little over 10 minutes.
After we got our rooms and dropped off our luggage, we headed to dinner at the main hub of the games, The Kintélé Sports Complex. It was host to many of the stadiums, including athletics (track and field), basketball, and the swimming pools. It was also where the dining halls were located.
One of the major complaints everyone had was about the food and the arrangement of the halls. Like many things at the Games, it seems as if no one really sat down and thought about the logistics of things before they implemented them. More often than not the lines were so long you had to wait 30+ min. before getting your food, and even when you did, you were most likely not satisfied with what you were served to eat.
They served the EXACT same meal every. single. day. The same breakfast, same lunch, and same dinner for all of the 12 days I was there. Lunch and dinner had pretty much the same choices offered, but every now and then they would switch up the vegetables or meat. I quickly learned what I liked and didn’t like, and how to get everything I needed nutrition-wise out of each meal.
For drinks they offered water, coffee, tea, soda (Coke and Fanta), and mango juice. I just grabbed water and tea for every meal.
One thing I can say they got right was the actual competition areas. They were very well-built. It seems like all-thought went into making sure they were up-to-par with world-class facilities. Near the end of the Games, there was a survey given out and judging by the questions, the Congo wants to try to host another international competition. My answer: They have the facilities, but just need to work on properly organizing everything.
The warm-up and competition tracks were really nice, in my opinion. It was apparent just how new everything was. I would be up at 6:00-6:30 every morning, and we’d usually be on our way to practice around 7-7:30 depending on how soon we could catch a bus.
I adjusted pretty quickly to the new environment, and practices went pretty smoothly for me. Before I left, I made an attack plan with my coach about how things would go. I ended up tweaking it a little bit to account for my late night arrival, but it wasn’t affected too greatly.
After practice, a lot of us would usually hang around to use the wifi in the stadium, and so that we could try and avoid the long lines for breakfast that came with the morning rush.
Once practice was over, we had the rest of the day to do with as we pleased, so we usually planned our days around napping, eating, supporting Team Ghana, and scavenging for WiFi. Flings and I made sure to watch swimming and beach volleyball the first few days after we arrived.
I’m currently working on a blog for the Games for a more in-depth look at everything, like the accommodations and the atmosphere at the various competitions. Until then, make sure to keep an eye out for Week 2, which will primarily be focused on my race recaps and on the entire track meet as a whole.
The writer can be followed on her blog www.activelygemma.com.