Wendy-Ann Clarke in Rio

Wendy-Ann Clarke: ‘my Rio dream realized’

I soaked up every moment of the sometimes two-hour journey on the shuttle bus into the stadium. Looking out the window, I took in every mountain, every tree, savoured every glimpse of the locals on their way to work. I knew that as soon as I stepped into the stadium I would almost forget I was in Brazil.

Filled with athletes and spectators from around the world and colourfully-clad volunteers at every turn, it felt a lot like Toronto’s 2015 Pan Am Games

I took in every ounce of wisdom the other media shared with me — the new girl. Sitting in the mix zone, waiting for the next Canadian athlete to come through, I’d hear the roar of the crowd and wish I was inside the stadium instead of watching the action on a screen. Oh well, I was learning so much working with the CBC and the Canadian Paralympic crew. We became a team.

“When’s our next race Wendy-Ann? Diane Roy’s got her 5,000m final at 6:54,” I’d tell them. Oops, I forgot to tweet about Mitchell Chase’s fourth-place finish but Rob Snoek said it perfectly, so I’ll just share his tweet.

I relished every moment of the incredible opportunity, in the same breath wishing it were over so it could be a memory I’d reflect on and share with friends and family back home.

Did that really happen? Did I a really meet and interview sprinting legend Frankie Fredericks? Did one of the greatest wheelchair racers in Canadian history, Brent Lakatos, tell me he was “grateful to have met” me after reading a piece I did on his hero, Andre Viger?

Yes, it all happened. I wasn’t at home dreaming of being at the Games. I had a place at the table — an opportunity I wouldn’t have allowed myself to dream of. How did (sports journalism co-ordinator) Malcolm Kelly and the staff at Centennial make it happen?

As an athlete, I always believed I would be in Rio in 2016, but one frustrating injury after another got in the way. Now, standing in the Olympic stadium as a journalist, it is clear my Rio 2016 dream has been realized. God works in mysterious ways.