November 11th, 2000



Gerbie on tour 21

Since the Olympics I am still hanging around in Sydney. The first week after the games was still the aftermath of it. There was a ticker tape parade for the Aussie athletes and also one for all Olympic volunteers, including yours truly. Kind of funny to walk the streets with 40.000 at the same time and at least 100.000 on the side of the road cheering. Even though I did have the impression that plenty of them were on their lunch break, the number was still very impressive. You really got the impression of being appreciated.

I've moved to an apartment in Coogee, one of the coastal suburbs of Sydney before the Olympics. The place is not very new, far from cheap, but by sharing between a few it is still better than most other options. In the beginning there were five Dutch people together, at the moment there's four of us and two Canadians. The view is quite nice, we've got a park straight in front of us and the beach is at crawling distance, while the bus stop and the super market aren't too far out either. Fairly well sorted I guess, though with a broken hover and too much shared responsibilities, the place doesn't always look like granny wants it.

Apart from the Olympic games Sydney also organised the Paralympic games. I went twice with a day pass, which entitled me entry to all sports, as long as there was any seating left. In those two days I have seen incredibly much. Not only the traditional sports like track and field, football, volleyball and swimming, but also wheelchair varieties of basketball and tennis and some typical paralympic sports as wheelchair rugby and goalball.

At some of the sports I was well impressed with the level. Wheelchair basketball for instance, but also the doubles final in tennis, in which the Dutch beat the Australians were real masterpieces. At other sports I have been asking if we're still talking topsport. Athletes who can barely reach the grass with a javelin, 14 years old who win medals, world records trashed by huge margins and athletes winning a medal in a sport they switched to only months before are signs for me that the level isn't really worth mentioning.

The 'new' sports for me where fun to watch. Wheelchair rugby, where the chairs like bump cars in a fun fair bump into each other continuously, with the mechanic being the most important team member was a spectacular and entertaining view. In goalball two teams of three blind players play each other. Very interesting, with total silence necessary as the only way they van hear the ball coming towards them is a little bell inside the ball. Overall I can only say that I thoroughly enjoyed myself those days.

Actually I haven't been doing very much in the last month. After the week I needed to rest after the games, I have played with the idea of finding myself a temporary job for a while. I did start to look around as well actually, but as I wasn't prepared to pick just any job and I was enjoying my sudden burst of leisure time, I didn't really look that well at all, no surprise that I haven't found anything.

I did walk through various parts of the city and also read incredibly much. As a real book addict I obviously have got a talent for finding the cheap book stores and the secondhand shops as well, so it's not even a real achievement that I manage to read more than two books a week lately.

But as of lately I have got this urge to become a bit more active. I want to see something and therefore will leave the city of Sydney behind me and travel the East Coast of this country, which seems big enough to have got a few more things to see and do. I don't think I'll be bored soon.

Until next time,