Most of our time on the 16th was spent at Canada House watching athletic events on the big screen TV and talking with other athlete’s families. Swimmer, and rower supporters were thinning out and more and more track supporters were filtering in. All of the families of the volleyball team are speculating as to which team will show up for our game against the Russians, our A team, or our B team. Hopefully it would be the team that beat the US on day one.
The game against Russia was first up in the morning at 10:30 Rio time. We got up a 7 and went through our preparations for the game, applying tattoos to our faces and deciding what else to wear. Alicia won a set of Styrofoam moose antlers at a competition at Canada House the night before, and that was added to the red and white wig that got her so much attention the night before. She insisted that her old man wear the much squashed Canada cowboy hat that her mother had crammed into her suitcase and we were off. We walked to the venue getting many strange looks from Brazilian passerbys and arrived in good time to get to our seats. This time we got to see our boys make their entry.
The first half of the first set went well, with our boys trading points back and forth with the Russians, and we were thinking that our A team had showed up for the game. Towards the end of the second half of the set, however, their resolve weakened and it was downhill from there on out. Both Gord and Graham Vigrass played well throughout the entire match, but it wasn’t enough to sustain the Russian attack. Gavin Schmitt had been struggling with injuries and surviving on pain killers for the tournament, and just was not able to continue. Canada fell to the Russian in 3 sets. One of the strongest players for the Russian was in his 40s and jumping like a deer. I want some of what he is on!
After the event was over, the girls went to the beach for the afternoon and I stayed at the condo pecking at my computer and doing a bit of snoozing. At 6, I took a taxi to Canada House and met up with Ruth and Alicia. Gord joined us a few moments later. I was wondering if Gord would be as down as I was after their loss, but he was amazingly philosophical about the whole affair. He said, “the ball rolls on, and we’ll have new players, a new coach and new challenges to face in the future. If we won every time we got out onto the court, it just wouldn’t be fun anymore.” With that he popped another Oreo cookie in his mouth and pronounced that today he was having a real sugar attack.
We ended up finding a quiet corner in Canada House away from the noise and clamour in the big room where everyone was yelling to be able to be heard over the din that had accumulated. By this time, the Americans had already trounced the highly favoured Polish team in 3 sets, and we watched as Italy polished off Iran in 3. The Brazil, Argentina match was going on when we went to bed last night. At that time it was one set a piece…I see this morning that Brazil defeat Argentina in 4. As things turned out, Canada, Poland, Iran and Argentina, will be able to claim the rights to a shared 5th place finish at the 2016 Olympic games.
It was great to listen to the team members talk about their experiences at the athlete’s village…about how cool it was to be there as part of the Canadian team, sharing accommodations (basically a large condo building) with all the other athletes. While we were watching the track and field events on the TV, Gord said, “Oh I rode up in the elevator with her”. Justin Duff piped in, “ate lunch with them”, and Gavin Schmitt grumbled as a reporter stuck a mic in front of an athlete who was just eliminated from competition asking, “how do you feel about your loss?” They all shouted, “how do you think he bloody feels?”
Two Canadian track hopefuls from the 800 meter race were sitting next to us and between him was a paddler, all who had suffered defeats, and all of who were commiserating with Canadian athletes they knew and had long associations with on the TV screen.
It’s interesting to note, that both the teams we defeated, the US and Italy will be playing in the semi-finals for a chance to go on for gold. I have to admit, I will be cheering for Italy!