July 2010


The 2nd Combined Rehearsal (CR) was conducted on 24th July with a lot of performers. Almost all of them were down for the rehearsal – kids, youths and erm.. a bit older youths. The sun was sweltering and I sweated through my t-shirt. Total yucks. Here’s some of the snaps from my photographer, Sebastian. He’s one talented dude.

Our plan for CR2 was to capture some of the youngest faces and also, the people who are really engrossed in action.

The energy that makes hair fly

A young one from School of Dance

Deputy Chief Choreographer Vivienne hard at work

Another young one with her pretty umbrella

A warrior raring and eager to go

You know you see people on the stage all the time. What you don’t get to see are those people toiling backstage. Like the Props Pusher for example. They have to push the huge containers onto the Stage, through the water.

Toiling into the night

through land and water

As part of my work at YOG, I often interact with the performers. Some of them nice, some of them well, a little more mischievous but all in the name of good fun. I made a few friends with the performers and some of them are really amazing. They are all “high” and enthusiastic despite the long waits and sweltering sun. Kudos to them

Fancy getting bullied by a 15-tear-old kid.

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On a random day, Tong (my other half, remember her?) and I went up and beyond the Stage. Get it? We went to the backstage of the Stage and up on the Rings (of Containers) as well. And as usual, I brought a camera on Stage to show you (my readers – oh no, thats a lot of brackets) the things you wouldn’t see until 14th August itself. Lucky readers who read this religiously!

Sneak preview coming straight up.

Hip Hop wannabe

The BIG chinese drums used in the Show

From the outside it looks normal...

This is one of the props used for the show. From the outside it looks like a container but inside, the walls are all dressed up to look like city scape. The container will open up during the segment performance.

Wait until you see the inside

The lowest of the Containers

The last picture was taken from the lowest of the Rings of Containers but I guess you can’t really see it? It was pretty scary at the lowest of the Rings already, I wonder how do the other performers stand it. (get the pun? stand there, stand it?) We had to wear a harness when we’re up there and the harness was clipped onto the railing. More ever, there’s a yellow line that no one is allowed to cross. Doesn’t that reminds you of something?

Thought I’d just post one last entry on Olympia with some of my favourite photographs. Hope you enjoy viewing them half as much as I enjoyed shooting them. 🙂

(Click on the pictures to view larger versions)

excitement

This was the first time I saw the flame lit during rehearsal. First time for many others too as you can see.

Chatting up the priestesses

Deputy CEO Francis Chong thanking the priestesses for their hard work. He's quite good with the ladies.

Leonard chats up the cops

Leonard, our HNA correspondent, works his magic with the police

man with the plan

Mr Tassos Papachristou, press officer for the Helenic Olympic Committee, has been doing this since 1980. Yes, he knows his stuff!

Amanda & Silas

Our two torchbearers, Silas (back to camera) and Amanda (sunglasses) watch the flame lighting rehearsal for the first time

Spot Silas!

That's how far Silas is from the front of the stadium

the stadium

Something about the place just makes you want to compete...

stride for stride

... to be the best

Coubertin monument

Maybe it's got something to do with how Pierre De Coubertin's heart is buried here. For real!

uphill

With its inclines and winding roads, Olympia is also great if you like to drive

Fluffy

The animals are pretty good-looking too. This fellow was lounging around outside a souvenir shop.

no-budget production

No big budget photoshoot for a last-minute request for a photo of the safety lantern. Just good ol' teamwork and improvisation.

media roundtable

Our friends from the IOC hosted a media roundtable to explain what it was that we were up to in Olympia. It wasn't very round though, as you can see.

girl with the olive branch

I'm guessing she grows up to be a priestess too.

big band

The big band that provided the music for the day's proceedings. Love their outfit!

guard of antiquities

Our camera crew nearly got into an argument with Mr Anastaios Mikelopoulas (above), guard of antiquities at Ancient Olympia, on second day of rehearsal. But good sense prevailed, and we were good friends by Flame lighting day. 🙂

cameras and more cameras

We had a good crowd at Olympia on the big day, and I imagine many more from around the world.

not as good as it looks

Shufen, "guardian of the torchbearers", wonders why that dessert doesn't taste more like Tiramisu

priestesses on the hill

Farewell, Olympia! So long, Greece!

One of the great things about the trip to Olympia, was the opportunity to spend time at the International Olympic Academy.

While some of my colleagues had slightly more comfortable accomodation at a regular hotel, the Academy was quiet (it’s some distance from civilisation), quaint (equipped with the basic amenities), and had quality food (think i actually lost a few pounds!).

the sign

click for a bigger, prettier picture

Sprawled over 225 acres, the Academy sits along the side of a mountain, and is a 5 – 20 minute drive (depending on the route and the driver’s “need for speed”)  away from the ruins of Ancient Olympia and the little town of Olympia.

And this was where I spent four nights that fizzled away… as quickly as an ice cube on the asphalt.

Checking in

Hauling our gear in the unrelenting Greek sunshine

When we first got there, there was the headache of lugging the luggage, boxes, gear, etc which is all quite a bit to take in given the heat, but we eventually got into the swing of things. Soon after dumping my stuff in the room, I stood outside and took a few seconds to check out the view.

The academy dorms

Not bad at all...

Also checking out the view (and probably us), were the Greek police who were literally a stone’s throw away (no I didn’t hurl any rocks at them). They were likely guarding the priestesses who were also holed up at the Academy.

cop car

Greek cop car sits by the side of the road

And did I tell you about the food? Healthy balance of vegetables (as much Greek salad and Feta cheese as you can eat), fruit (all you can fork), protein (no fried chicken here!) and carbohydrates (potatoes, pasta, bread…).  Miss it already.

quality food

Not bad at all for a self-service restaurant

Getting to see the Singapore flag flying proudly every day between the flags of Greece, the IOC, and the European Union was also goosebump-worthy, but I think my goosebumps just melted in the heat.

flags

Salute!

There’s also that mystical air about the place (maybe it’s got to do with that Greek font that I can’t read), and you feel like the world isn’t whizzing past you. Speaking of which, I did literally whizz pass a tortoise that was crossing the road into the Academy. :p Hope he/she made it ok…

greek to me

All Greek to me?

Apparently I’m not the first to feel something special about this place. The late Juan Antonio Samaranch (Honourary IOC President) eloquently said:

I feel that this is the ideal place to reflect on the evolution of our society. We are in a haven of peace and balance, where centuries remain engraved on the stones, the meanders of the Alpheios river, the beauty of the vegetation and the serenity which pervades this unique place, Olympia, where sport started on its most glorious and finest course.

Sadly there was hardly any time to dawdle during the trip, but on my final drive out of the Academy, I took the time to pull over to the side of the road and snap this picture to remember my stay in the magical place nestled in the bosom of Ancient Olympia.

Aerial

click for larger image

Wish I had more time to just chill. Maybe next time.

P.S. I changed the “theme” for the blog to accomodate bigger pics.

There wasn’t much time to muck around after the whole flame lighting affair in Olympia.

We had videos to edit, photos to caption, stuff to pack, people to move around, tweets to send, hands to shake, … you get the picture. (So much for catching up on my blog entries!)

Lucky for us, we had a few hours in Athens before having to fly back to Singapore.

Acropolis from afar

Acropolis from afar... very far.

And that’s about as close or as good a view of the magical Acropolis as I could manage.

After checking into the hotel, we were all pretty knackered (or at least I was!) from the day’s events, but still we had to eat, even though it was past 9pm at night! Was told the Greeks eat dinner pretty late.

So off we went to Plaka, on advice from Mr Chris Chan, Secretary General of the SNOC, and experienced visitor to Greece.

Plaka Plaka Plaka

Plaka by night

It’s probably as touristy a place as you can visit in Athens, but with enough local flavour to keep me snapping pictures, trinket hunting and stuffing my face – sometimes even all at once.

old neighbourhood

Shopping or Ruins? I'm spoilt for choice

When you say that Plaka is in an old neighbourhood, it’s really understating it. There are ancient ruins that run right next to the shops.

Graffiti

Thou shall not spraypaint thy ruins

Even the graffiti artists seem to be respectful of what they can, cannot spray on and REALLY cannot spray on – which is cool.

scrawls

more wall scrawls

Takeaway art

This art you can bring home

But all the culture and history in the world can’t fill an empty belly, so it was time for some carnivorous consumption.

Meat me

Meaty me

And naturally, over food, we started talking and reminiscing about the historical ceremony we were all witness to. Then we decided to relive it all, especially those of us who didn’t get our hands on the torch. :p

Silas = :p

Silas (partially concealled) probably wasn't impressed

And even after eating, there was more temptation lining the streets

Gelato anyone?

Funky coloured ice cream = very tempting in the heat.

But we decided to do a little souvenir hunting instead…

endless shopping

Lots and lots to see...

And look what we found!

amanda and the vuvuzela

Amanda blows and blows... but nothing!

We eventually walked away with about 5 vuvuzelas! 😉

And as we walked along with our booty we realised there were things on the pathway that we had to carefully sidestep.

Dogway

Doggone walkway!

Some of them were a bit more friendly…

tummyrub

Shufen (torchbearer chaperone) gives out a free tummyrub

But more friends started turning up…

Dog + dog

Doggy's friend looking for tummyrub too, but we got scared and left

Anyway, that was about it before scooting off to the airport at 4am. :p Sorry we couldn’t get to know you better, Athens!

We are now in ‘recess’, as we wait for the Flame to travel to Mexico City. With the time difference, it means the backroom office will swing into operations again on Thursday morning.

Since Friday, after the Flame Lighting Ceremony in Olympia, the days have been hectic, sometimes frantic – checking on timing of events, waiting to get the statements up, making sure the photos come in etc.

But one of the things I look forward to is to hear from the teams and find out how things were going in their respective Celebration Cities.

Julian was usually grumpy. I wondered if it was the heat or the poor internet connectivity.

Valerie, on the other hand, is always positive and uplifting in her reports, despite some last minute challenges on the ground.

Kee Haur’s reports ranged from being funny, without intentionally being so, to sometimes utter despair as he couldn’t finalise the programme. So much so that when he tweeted that the sound system had arrived at the airport just before the Flame flown in, I could almost hear him cheered.

Li San’s reports have twist and turns, complex plots filled with drama and even cliff hangers.

It is interesting how JYOF inspires all of us in different ways. Read Amanda’s story on Dakar, “Torches Pass Through the Door of No Return“.

I also enjoyed how we can communicate almost instantaneously despite the time difference; I could almost see what was happening from the photos tweeted or posted in the media workroom.

Julian and Joey are now back from Olympia. Julian who seems to have lost weight is perkier; he’s also bought a vuvuzela to annoy all of us.

Kee Haur is on his way back from Dakar.

Li San and Wai Leng are getting ready for the city celebration in Mexico City, while Yee Shin and Val are now en-route to Auckland – I hope their luggage get unstuck in Frankfurt and get over to them soon.

Before we know it, we will start the six-day of Singapore JYOF – next Saturday!.

I hope all of you managed to catch the flame lighting ceremony in Olympia?

Hot hot hot

You go, girl!

If you didn’t, you can watch the ceremony in full HERE (58 min 46 sec). Alternatively, you can watch the highlights HERE (3 min).

During the flame lighting ceremony and throughout the rehearsals, there was a team that I worked with on the ground to bring photos and video to you and the rest of the world. In fact, two of them (Matt & Pav) are following the flame throughout its global journey, and another two (Nic & Tony) are leapfrogging over to Mexico City to get things ready there.

The A Team

L-R: Tony (Producer), me, Wu Wei (photog), Nic (Exec Producer), Yu Yang (photog)

Synth star

Pav, our video editor (sorry i couldn't find a more glamorous pic!)

Matt moving

Matt, our main camera dude (no, that's not a weapon)

All these guys are true professionals and never once grumbled about the challenging conditions that we were working under (heat, dodgy internet connection, tight timelines, uncertainty about whether we would be allowed in certain positions, etc). Still, they delivered despite some of them possibly even having a brush with heatstroke. You’ll be able to check out their work on our Flickr account and YouTube channel.

Thank you for being part of an awesome Audio+Video+Photo team. Very much appreciated!

P.S. I touched down in Singapore this morning at about 6.00am and was rendered unconscious for about 12 hours, and this is about as much as my Olympia stir-fried brain can handle. More on the Odyssey in Olympia to follow…

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