Olympic Team volunteer recalls experience of a lifetime
This story was posted in its original version on skatecanada.ca, written by Allan Gordon.
When Shanti Suppiah found out the Canadian Olympic Committee had selected her to be a volunteer at the 2014 Olympic Winter Games in Sochi, she could hardly contain her excitement.
“I had to close my office door and kind of compose myself,” admitted Suppiah who works in the investment sector, “and then there was a bit of jumping up and down.”
Up until that moment, her dreams of volunteering at Sochi were slowly fading. “I hadn’t heard after about six or seven weeks and I thought they picked their team and I wasn’t on it.”
It would’ve been hard to leave someone of her calibre off the list, though. The devoted volunteer has donated her time to many Skate Canada events over the past few years, including the 2012 and 2013 Skate Canada Internationals, 2013 and 2014 Canadian Tire National Skating Championships, and the 2013 ISU World Figure Skating Championships.
Suppiah’s role in communications and media relations at Skate Canada events has included press conference operations, assisting in the press mixed zone and television interviews, and general media centre procedures – and in doing so, her volunteer experience has allowed her to rub shoulders with some of the top figure skaters in Canada and the world.
In Sochi, she helped with the Canadian Olympic Committee’s digital media team. “My responsibilities included leading and cultivating content for live blogs from Canada Olympic House and Olympic venues,” said Suppiah, “as well as updating the Canadian Olympic Committee’s website.” The live blogs allowed her to get a feel for Canadians’ emotions back home, while experiencing the events first-hand in Sochi.
Having experienced so many incredible events in Sochi, it wasn’t easy to single out the top moment, but she was able to pick out some highlights (in no particular order) that came to mind when asked.
The first outstanding event was the Opening Ceremony. “Seeing the lighting of the Olympic torch,” Suppiah said, “Canada House was located beside the (Fisht) stadium and I got a great view of the torch being lit and the phenomenal firework show that followed.”
Also among Suppiah’s highlights were the two hockey finals. “I was live blogging both the men’s and women’s gold medal hockey games from Canada House,” she said. “Cheering on Canada’s hockey teams with diehard Canadian fans, and celebrating their gold medal wins is an experience I will never forget!”
Of particular note, she listed Tessa Virtue and Scott Moir’s free dance as a moment she will cherish, “I was in the audience at the Iceberg Palace on the night of Tessa and Scott’s free dance. Their performance was beautiful and very moving; it was a privilege to witness.”
In the end, Suppiah left the Games with many memories, and without a single regret. “Volunteering at the Olympics was an amazing experience; I had the time of my life in Sochi and made some great friends along the way.”
When asked if she would do it again, her response time matched the answer itself: “In a heartbeat.”