An incredible Opening Ceremony | Dave's Blog

Published 7 August 2016 (AEDT) | Author Dave Jones

Dave Jones - Aislin Jone's dad (shooting)

I did something yesterday I never thought I’d do in my life!

I watched the opening ceremony of an Olympic Games twice – and the news highlights!

Actually we had friends and family over for brekky – lots of pancakes. We watched the whole Opening Ceremony together. It was a very proud moment to watch Aislin walk in front & centre behind Anna Meares and under the Aussie flag.

Aislin had messaged me from “The Edge” the day before and said:

Rowing pictogram

With the front of the house sporting a décor of Aussie Flags, the lounge room sprawled with additional bean bags and the smell of fresh pancakes wafting in from the kitchen, 11 of us somehow fitted into the lounge room in front of the fire to watch.

We received a number of messages from Aislin as they waited, Australia were to be 15th in the line up and the first ones should go on at 8:53pm (Rio time). Waiting… waiting…

The story of the Olympic Laureate, Kip Keino was amazing – there are truly wonderful people in the world. But we were waiting for the Aussies.

The pre-game show was entertaining but we had one purpose in mind!

The excitement when Aislin – sorry the Australian Team - walked into Maracana Stadium was just amazing. Phones started pinging, Facebook messages came in thick and fast, as many family and friend who have been following her came through declaring “We saw her! There were tears…” or “The kids have been up since 6am waiting to for a glimpse of Aislin! They are so excited.”

Our lounge room was abuzz. It was a very proud moment for Lynne and I, and for Renae too. I sat there wondering what it felt like for Aislin? Everyone felt elated.

Aislin’s message afterwards was simple, “That was INCREDIBLE!!!!!!"

At the end of it lunch was shared and we all parted with a sense of pride and excitement hard to put into words.

I imagine it was a lot like that for all of the families of Aussie athletes who marched.

Lots of the support teams I mentioned in my previous blog entry, all around the country – and some of them in Rio – were all feeling what we were feeling. The tens of thousands of Australians who love the Olympics were experiencing that moment with us too. Our #OneTeam moment where we set aside everything else life throws at us and just got to cheer and be excited for the country’s team.

Reflecting on it afterwards there’s something missing for families whose much loved athlete is competing the next day, or has official training, and misses this moment. Running the Opening Ceremony one day earlier would be a great thing.

I also wondered who would be watching and feeling that excitement for the members of the refugee team? If there’s one underdog team I hope medals in the Games it would be them.

The moment continued though after the athletes looped around the stadium and the Aussie Team got prime location just behind the camera view of all of the rest of the teams who had yet to walk in.

The interest our athletes generate is astounding. In the past it was probably immeasurable. In some ways it still is but we get a better idea now than a decade ago. The Age can publish grumpy articles about athlete funding, just days after they celebrated Aislin on the front page – the media are a strange beast. But thousands of people are inspired by a 16 year old going to Rio. They don’t even care about the result – they’re proud of her now! They think she’s amazing already just for being there.

How do I know? How can it be measured? For that I turn to the method of measurement adored by teens the world over – and some marketing people. Social media.

Rowing pictogram

Changing the cover photo on Aislin’s sports person’s Facebook page to the one of a clearly very excited Aislin celebrating the Opening Ceremony was seen by 40,000 people mostly in Australia but also around the world. 1200 took the time to like it and has been shared more than 80 times in less than 20 hours! Social media gurus in marketing dream of such emotional engagement in their posts.
It is conclusive, as a population we love the Olympics and our athletes!

Hundreds of thousands, millions would have responded to the collective Aussie team’s family’s posts on social media. On an international scale with 10,500 athletes from around the world servers probably melted with the overload.

So back to where I started. Last night I sat down again at 7pm and watched the re-run of the opening ceremony. Wow. I wish Dad was still around, he’d have teared up for sure.

Then after the re-run was over “it” started. With the iPad on my knee and the TV on too, I multitasked. Blokes can when it comes to sport, not much else though. I watched sports I’ve never watched before – partly because you never could but you can now!

Rowing pictogram

Yay for the internet. fencing, Aussies in table tennis, archery, rowing, women’s 10m air rifle, and one I’d have been able to watch - the Aussie girls, Taliqua Clancy & Louise Bawden beat Costa Rica in a deadly performance. I’m hooked. It’s going to be a long couple of weeks. Thankfully I’m on leave! I wish I’d stayed up for the Archery Teams final.

The build up is over now. Aussies the country over are excited about the Olympics, our team and individual athletes.

Trump v. Hillary, Australian politics, crime whatever else can take a flying leap for the next fortnight. We don’t care. In our heads we’re all in Rio!

It will be a late night tonight and tomorrow night as the first of the Aussie shotgun team take to Deodoro in the Men’s & Women’s Trap events. Our hearts will be with Laetisha Scanlan and Catherine Skinner, and Adam Vella and Mitch Iles as they take on the best in the world. Dust’em up guys!


Aislin’s Dad, Dave

Aislin Jones

Aislin Jones



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