The Central American Games are an incredible experience and from what many former Olympians have told me, a mini Olympics. We stay in an athlete village with buildings designated per country, have a really cool camaraderie between all the athletes, and witnessed an epic opening ceremony.
In my earlier post, I mentioned how Shakira was doing the opening ceremonies. She was incredible, but you know what was even better? Walking out into a cheering stadium with other Venezuela athletes when they announced our country’s name.
Donning our Venezuela track suits, we boarded buses heading for the stadium, which I believe hosts one of Barranquilla’s soccer teams normally. As the countries were announced in alphabetical order, we were second to last, with Colombia, the host country behind us. The tunnel entering the stadium was bustling with excitement, people chanting and cheering in anticipation. When we heard Venezuela called, we ran out, to a stadium of people cheering with blue lights scattered around the crowd. We then proceeded to walk around the arena floor waving and taking photos.
Once we made our way around the stadium, we went and took seats directly across the stadium floor from the stage, behind the flags and where the Olympic torch would be lit. Shakira opened up the games with a song and then speeches were given from the President of Colombia and the Olympic federation. Then, the entertainment began.
Famous Colombia singers took the stage, with dancers waving all of the participating country’s flags. The floor in the middle of the arena that we had just walked around then turned into this incredible LED board like the one used in the 2008 Beijing Olympics, telling a story of a woman through the history of Colombia. With the floor changing shapes and colors, hundreds of dancers took the stage, as well as ships, animals(including an alligator), that paused as the woman exploring Colombia's history took on the tiger.
There was dancing, singing, and celebrating. It was truly incredible. But one of my favorite parts? They let the athletes leave our seats and run along the arena floor to the stage when Shakira started performing. So. Much. Fun. I ran with my teammates to the stage, but me being tall, and having my camera with me, I didn’t push all the way to the front, as I had a great view either way and actual room to breathe.
Afterwards, we walked the streets outside the stadium a bit to go to the cars that were going to take our team to a dinner place in Barranquilla, keep in mind it is already past midnight at this point. We ate, with some of us falling asleep in our seats from such an exciting evening.
It was truly a night I will never forget and one that I call the coolest nights of my life. How special the opening ceremonies were, has provided memories I will carry with me the rest of my life. Be on the lookout for my video from opening ceremonies coming soon!