DAVID – “There were sniper tents in the hills, camouflaged in the snow”

Upon arriving in Sochi on a dodgy charter airline (that made us pay 200 euros for our luggage which on any other airline would have been free) we landed to see the security guards surrounding the airport, lining the fences to the runway, one every 10 metres or so. I tried to stay awake as I leant against my window seat, I always get one because I like to lean against things. 99% of the time I get one when I ask, if there’s none left, I’ve learnt to ask a female to swap because generally they will get up way more times and don’t mind the aisles.

Generally travelling isn’t stressful because we travel so often. we have gold cards which get us into special shorter lines, into airport lounges and extra luggage which we need for competing. Sochi would be a bit different because it was the Olympics and there were terror threats.
I don’t expect to have priority lines, but it is nice when we get them, only because we wait in queues so often it’s nice to be hu
rried through.
Customs in Sochi took far longer than any other, just to stamp the passport, look at our accreditation, and even though it said I was an athlete I still had to explain why I was there.

Sochi

Once through, and after receiving our bags we were loaded onto a bus. We headed towards the mountain village an hour away. We stopped briefly in the coastal village to drop some athletes off there, but in order to continue any further, all of us had to go through the security scanner, taking all of our bags through in order to continue on to the next athlete village. Upon arriving there we again had to show our accreditation and our bus was scanned for bombs and our luggage checked. Each time our documents were checked a sticker would be put on the door of the bus, so the next security check point could see if anyone had entered or gotten off, if it was broken.

 

There were sniper tents in the hills, made clearly visible by the fact they were camouflaged white in the snow, but there was no snow.
But the thing was, despite all of the nonsense and tediousness of the security screens and procedures. I felt overly safe.
So safe that I forgot all about the suicide bombers and things that could go wrong and could focus fully on my event.

 

Focus I did and I won the silver medal in the Men’s Aerial Skiing event. A massive achievement for myself after years of training, dedication and sacrifice.

The best part being when I was travelling back home through the airports, knowing full well that there was a large metal object in my back pack wouldn’t go unnoticed by the machines. I would always be held up, asked to open my bag, then the guards eyes would go a bit wider and they’d ask me if it was real.

I would just nod, they would say thank you, well done, please go all the way through.

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