Do It Myself Blog – Glenda Watson Hyatt

Motivational Speaker

From Watching Gold to Touching Gold at the Paralympics

Filed under: Vancouver Winter Games — by at 3:05 pm on Monday, March 15, 2010

Thunderbird Arena ready for Paralympics Ice Sledge Hockey Early Saturday morning Darrell and I dragged ourselves from our warm bed and made our way out to the University of British Columbia’s Thunderbird Arena for the first Paralympics Ice Sledge Hockey game – Canada v Italy.

Ignoring my fever and potential bronchitis, I donned my official Olympics hockey jersey and headed out the door. Except for a vague memory of attending a Canucks practice session back when I was in preschool, this was my first ever hockey game; that is embarrassing to admit as a Canadian!

The game was amazing – a little slower than ice hockey, after all it takes longer to turn around and maneuver a sledge, although the guys definitely move and they aren’t afraid to slam another player into the boards! The linesmen had to do some high stepping to avoid an oncoming sledge; occasionally they weren’t quite quick enough!

The Canadian team dominated the ice, leaving the goalie Paul Rosen alone in the Canadian end for most of the game! Here are a few highlights from the third period:

How these guys balance sitting on the equivalent of one skate blade and their upper body strength is incredible! Surely shoulders weren’t designed to propel one’s self across the ice like that.

Darrell and I will return to Thunderbird Arena on Tuesday evening to watch Canada take on Norway and become one step closer to defending their gold medal title from the 2006 Paralympics in Turin!

From Thunderbird Arena we made our downtown to the Vancouver Public Library. After a quick lunch at the same cafe as our first quasi-date nearly fourteen years ago, we headed for the lineup for the Royal Canadian Mint to see the medals. Upon reaching the end of the lengthy line, a security guard informed us that the line was now closed and to come back tomorrow. We turned to head away.

An official-type woman came running after us and said she could get us to the front of the line. Initially we thought she meant when we returned tomorrow. But, no, she meant now; she led us to the front of the three-hour lineup! I felt guilty bypassing the hundreds of people standing there. I don’t use my disability to take advantage of a situation, but occasionally the universe has a way of balancing the score…and who am I to argue with the universe!

Darrell and I were given white gloves and proceeded into the secured area with the next group of perhaps; perhaps 15-20 of us. We read about the process used to make the amazing medals, each one unique, in the display cases while waiting to get close enough to see the actual medals.

Another official-type woman came over to us to tell us to wait behind after the other people left and then we could get our photo taken with the medals. Much to my surprise and delight, I had the opportunity to touch and have my photo taken with each of the six medals (3 from the Olympics and 3 from the Paralympics). A few of the photos aren’t quite in focus and I’m definitely not feeling my best, however the photos are my memories to cherish.

Glenda touching a 2010 Olympic gold medalTouching an Olympic gold medal…

Glenda touching a 2010 Olympic silver medal and silver…

Glenda touching a 2010 Olympic bronze medal and bronze…and to think each one is unique. The process used to create them is amazing!

Glenda touching a 2010 Paralympic gold medal The Paralympic medals are more rectangular in shape, with Braille on the back.

Glenda holding a 2010 Olympic gold medalThe Olympic gold was brought over to me for me to hold up close; an opportunity not afforded to everyone!

Glenda touching a 2010 Paralympic silver medalSpeaking with mechanical technologist Renato Romozzi, he preferred the shape of the Paralympic medals and definitely favoured the bronze for its colour.

Glenda touching a 2010 Paralympic bronze medalI would like to sincerely thank the Mint for making this once-in-a-lifetime opportunity extra memorable for my husband and myself. I appreciate the extra time you took with us so that we could experience these awesome medals up close. Thank you.

If you enjoyed this post, consider buying me a chai tea latte. Thanks kindly.

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Comment by karenL

March 15, 2010 @ 4:22 pm

There’s nothing like the universe evening things out. Except your being able to see it.

Congratulations on your score!

Comment by Karen

March 15, 2010 @ 10:52 pm

Great story and adventure! I had no idea the medals were unique. Impressive. It must have been your jersey that did it. 🙂
I saw part of a hockey game on Swedish television. (I’m not a sports fan in general, but they seem to be doing fair coverage. It was the Swedes vs Norwegians.) I watched a bit because I was mesmerized by their speed. They were definitely not afraid to slam into each other! Sometimes, their sticks went flying and they went flying after them. I felt quite comfortable on my sofa! 🙂

Comment by Ricky Buchanan

March 16, 2010 @ 5:12 am

Somebody I know from an online support group plays sled hockey – I’ve never seen it before today, only seen her writing about it so this was great for that too!

I don’t think anybody in Australia plays ice hockey… we have some winter sports but not many. Generally it’s too hot here!

And I think the universe evening things out occasionally is entirely right and proper. If you went around going “hey I’m a poor little crippled girl, please give me extra special treatment” well … I so very much can’t imagine you ever doing that so I can’t say what I’d think! It would be an entirely different situation though.

I find it wonderful that the metallurgist thought the paralympic bronze was the best medal! I’m pretty sure he’s the only person around the olympic scene who thinks bronze is best 🙂 And I had never known each medal was different – I wonder whether that’s a Canadian thing or they’re always that way?

May I be nosy and ask how you communicated with the people – did you have your sexy hubby to translate, or do you use other methods too? Feel free to ignore the nosy questioner, but I must admit to curiosity!

Thank you so very much for sharing your olympic and paralympic experiences. You’ve enriched my life and I feel like I’ve had a virtual holiday to Canada with you 🙂 I do hope you make it to Australia one day, I think we’d be scarily good together!!


Comment by The Royal Canadian Mint

March 18, 2010 @ 6:35 am

We have an amazing team here at the Mint so it’s wonderful hearing you experienced such a great time at our Vancouver venue! Your photos with the medals tell it all. I’ve shared this post on the Mint’s twitter and facebook accounts too! Thanks!

Comment by paxton

March 20, 2010 @ 6:16 pm

hi there. my friend ricky showed me your blog. very cool!
i play sledge (sled) hockey and ricky had asked me about the bottoms of the sleds and the contruction of them.
the seat is called a bucket. under the bucket are actually 2 skate blades. they can be adjusted to being as far as 5 inches apart, to being less than 1/2 inch apart, depending on the skill level, ability to balence, and possition of the athlete (goaltenders usually have a wider base)
then there’s a plastic or metal rudder under the feet (or in some cases, where the feet would be)
the sticks have ice picks on the ends and yes, they do a number on your shoulders! lol

Comment by Glenda

April 2, 2010 @ 6:38 pm

Paxton, thanks for stopping by and explaining more about the sledge. I don’t have the arm control or strength to get very far. My husband has the upper strength but not the balance. With two blades, perhaps this is something he could try.

Comment by Glenda

April 2, 2010 @ 6:54 pm

Ricky, the medals were unique to Vancouver’s Games. They’re beautiful! The mechanical technologist favoured the bronze because of its colour. It would have gone nicely with my red hair. And, in between my coughing fits, I was able to get out a few somewhat understandable words. Mostly, I listened. I don’t mind your curiosity at all. Go ahead and ask away! And, yes, imagine the trouble us two gimp girls could get in to!

Comment by Cynthia

June 2, 2010 @ 4:05 pm

great story you have!!!! it actually feel like you were their!!!!

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