By Amanda Smock
As one can imagine, the past two months have been a whirlwind. A few words come to mind while trying to summarize the experience, humbling, breathtaking, and surreal. The outpouring of support has been incredibly humbling. I’ve never in my life felt so much love from so many corners of the Midwest. Every community that I’ve ever belonged to has reached out and exclaimed their excitement for me. I’m honored and humbled knowing that people from all over Minnesota and North Dakota want to claim me. I took this love with me to London and wore it as a coat of pride knowing that I represented such an amazing corner of the earth.
Looking back, the breathtaking part of this experience surfaced countless times. The first notable moment was “moving day” the day the team moved from our training camp in Birmingham, England to the Olympic Village in London. As we approached the Olympic Park, the Stadium, and the Olympic Village, our bus filled with the Worlds Greatest Track Team, was in awe. Everyone from reigning World and Olympic champions to the rookies, had cameras out. We were all taking pictures and videos in hopes of capturing the excitement of the moment. We had finally arrived at the place we worked so hard to get to for our whole lives!
Village life was a surreal experience. I would find myself sending internal reminders that I was “at the Olympics, in THE Olympic Village.” Day-to-day life of practice, meals, therapies, and hanging-out in the village started to feel really normal and brushing shoulders with people I had only ever read about or followed on-line soon became regular, daily occurrence. A few of the things I enjoyed most about the village were seeing the flags hanging from the windows and balconies of the apartment buildings and the gigantic Olympic rings stationed in the central park area of the village. I had a great view of these rings from my bedroom window; they greeted me every morning when I opened the curtains! Finally, I can’t forget to mention the village coffee cart that served up any imaginable delicious coffee drink. This was certainly a “perk” of village life.
Competition day was probably the highlight of the entire trip. Entering the stadium and feeling all of the energy flying around took my breath away. Each time I stepped on the runway and prepared to take a jump I was overcome with happiness, gratitude and excitement, I only wish I would’ve performed better on that day. Nonetheless, the entire experience was incredibly positive and I know as time goes on, the experience will sink in further and take on new meanings to me as the years pass by.