It's been a little over a month since the Tokyo Olympics came to an end. One of our solicitors, George Muir, travelled to Tokyo as part of the Black Sticks New Zealand Men's Hockey Team for his Olympic debut. We caught up with him to hear about his experience.
Q: Tell us about your time at the Tokyo 2020 Olympics?
A: Tokyo 2020 – the Covid Olympics! It happened! After a whole lot of uncertainty around whether the games would go ahead and if so, how they would look, it's amazing to look back at what an amazing event it was and I am still buzzing that I was able to be a part of it. There were definitely a lot of restrictions and precautions taken to keep Covid away, but all in all life in the village was more open and fun than I was expecting. My journey to the games was about as bumpy as the games itself with injury, selection and lockdown woes in the lead up, so it was a great feeling when the day came to be singing the national anthem in the incredible, albeit empty, hockey stadium.
Q: What were your highlights?
A: My highlights would have to be my Olympic debut against Spain in which we came from behind to win in the dying minutes. Outside of hockey, the medal celebration hakas with the NZ team were some of my proudest moments and always brought out the goosebumps – very special and uniquely kiwi.
Q: It was clear this Olympics was unique being during a pandemic. How did this affect the Olympic village and overall experience?
A: Japan did such an amazing job of hosting the games successfully and the stadiums and venues were incredible. It was really sad to see them all empty – not that this seemed to dampen the friendly Japanese spirits. Daily covid tests, mask wearing and hand sanitizing quickly became second nature around the village. The dining hall was still as big as it always is, but this year featured perspex screens between each person for eating. The sporting side of things didn’t change at all. Competition was still at the highest level and athletes gave it their all in every game. All the media talk and the anticipation for the Covid Olympics almost made Covid an anti-climax at the games!
Q: Who was the most inspiring person you met both from NZ and overseas?
A: I’m a big surfing fan so I was stoked to spend some time with Billy Stairmand our NZ surfer and chat to Kanoa Igarashi the Japanese surfer just after he had won Japan's first silver medal in surfing. I am always in awe of Valerie Adams so watching her succeed yet again and being part of the celebration and haka afterwards was very inspiring. The village is the hotspot for seeing and meeting the big name athletes, I seemed to bump into Yao Ming almost daily which was easy to do considering he is 7 ft 6 inches!
Q: The Olympic stage is something few athletes experience in their lifetimes. You and the Black Sticks stepped up to this challenge, during a difficult lead up with lockdowns plenty. Was there anything in particular that kept up team morale, and can any of these skills apply in our office environment?
A: Finding a positive perspective was something we used as a competitive advantage. We were training when other teams around the world were in lockdown which made us excited to make as much of a jump on the world as possible. When other teams were playing international games and tournaments and we were stuck in NZ, we saw it as a chance to improve without other countries watching us and go into the games as a bit of an unknown. Training without competition (like work) can sometimes be a grind, but if we were able to adjust our perspective and find motivation from challenging circumstances, we were able to continue to push ourselves to improve and succeed.
We are so proud of you George, it was amazing to see you on our TV screens in the office!