Wednesday 20 March

Official practice and opening ceremony

Joke and I went to the meeting of heads of delegations. Here the technical and organisational aspects for the championships were discussed. It was sometimes chaotic and mostly in French, but after two hours everything was more or less clear.

After the meeting we went to the practice hall were the others had already been shooting for a while. First, I had to give an interview for the championship's newsletter, as they were very curious why a Brazilian had come all on his own to the championships from Holland. Practice was nearly over after my interview, so I only shot a few arrows.

The practice hall.

After lunch, the official practice and equipment inspection started in the tournament halls. The archers were split up into two groups: women compound and men recurve shot in the 'Palais des Sports', women recurve and men compound shot in the ENTPE-hall, so we split up for the afternoon. For me, practice went well. I had not been able to shoot very much before the championships because of the preparations and a shoulder injury. My shoulder didn't feel bad, although I felt the lack of practice by the end of the session. The others had also a reasonable good practice session.

After the official practice, everyone went back to the hotel, to freshen up and prepair for the official opening ceremony. Apart from Geert and Christel, none of us had previously been in such a "show", so we were a bit worked up about the whole affaire. In the hotel, Joke gave all Dutch archers the "official" Dutch uniform, which she had borrowed personally from participants to the "Student Olympics" last summer.

The Dutch team, who were now wearing their official orange coloured track suits, attracted a lot of attention. So much in fact that a class of school children wanted their autographs and wanted to have a photograph taken with them. I was wearing a neutral white outfit and only a T-shirt with 'Brasil' printed on the back, so I escaped the attention.

The Dutch team giving autographs.

In the evening, we had the opening ceremony. This was a full ceremony with parade, flags, speeches, hymns and a show. On the parade, I had to carry the flag myself as I was all alone. I had always felt a little sorry for the one man delegations you sometimes see in the olympics, and now I was one myself. To be honest, it wasn't that bad.

Part of the opening show. The Dutch team at the opening parade

The show was very good. It was a musical show about archery in history, war, hunting, love and the future. It included stilt walkers, juggling and some nice and difficult shots under pressure at balloons. It is really difficult to explain, you just had to be there.

Some good shooting at the opening ceremony!

After the ceremony, there was a buffet, but as this was not yet ready, we were parked in the student's café where the Dutch team enjoyed themselves playing table football and the Taiwanese team playing some kind of volleyball with a balloon they brought with them from the opening ceremony. After a good meal, everyone went to bed early for the first competition day.