*HJU blogger Alison Martin is Canada’s Dressage Team’s chef d’équipe for the 2015 Toronto Pan American Games and is sharing a behind-the-scenes look at the Games.*

Before the Opening Ceremony

Before the Opening Ceremony

Opening Ceremonies

Wow. Just wow.

Having a major games in your home country is something really special, so to be able to march in the opening ceremonies was an opportunity I didn’t want to miss! Ashley Holzer was our champion because she picked us up, drove us to the venue and dropped us off right outside the stadium, otherwise we might not have gone!  Competing the next day poses a challenge since the Opening Ceremony runs very late and the equestrian venue is not close. So thank you, Ashley!!!

Brittany, Chris, Usha, Dirk, Christine and I all packed into Usha’s Volvo and sped down the highway to the Athletes Village. You have to meet at the athletes village by 7pm to collect everyone and then you march around 9pm. It sounds horrendous that you have to wait around for two hours before going in but I can tell you, it isn’t!!!  We were able to stumble across the eventers, so we had a fun time all together!

Canadian Athletes

Canadian Athletes

There is music, there are lots of people and spontaneous singing O Canada, chanting and cheering. We were led to buses that drove us through town to the stadium. Then we file out of the buses, all 500 of us, and walk in to the holding Zone. Talk about a sea of red!!!

The marching uniform was well….. very very hot! The sweatpants and the zip jacket have no vents. So we’re 500 sweaty sardines all squishily walking through the narrow tunnels in the stadium.  After an hour in the tunnels, the Canadian flag arrived and we realized how close to the front we were!!! Another spontaneous singing of O Canada erupted in the crowd!!

And the tension builds because we can hear the music and then the show starts and we can hear O Canada and sing AGAIN!!

Check out Christine Peters video of the moment we walk from the backstage into the stadium. The cheering is deafening and you can feel it in your chest!!!! Amazing. Super crazy awesome.

OMG!!!! This was the most amazing experience.

It was too fast! I want to do that again!!!

Now onto competition day! Go gang!! I want to hear that Canadian anthem again and again!!

Alison