It was a great honour to represent the NWPD and Canada at the World Police Fire Games in Belfast this year.
When we arrived at the host city, we were welcomed in with open arms. There were banners everywhere and we met numerous people on the streets who were excited at the prospect of having so many competitors from around the world come in to their City. In fact, as we were walking to the opening ceremonies, a citizen pulled over and asked where we were going and if we needed a ride. We were only a short distance away so we declined the ride, but it was a sign of the hospitality that we would experience many times over throughout the Games.
After arriving at the Opening Ceremonies, I met up with fellow NWPD member and competitor Constable Arloa Popke. Soon after changing into our NWPD tracksuits, we were engulfed in a sea of red and white Canadian athletes while marching into the packed stadium. The Games included 50 countries and 7000 competitors, who all marched in representing their countries in unique ways, and all to a boisterous crowd. During the evening we enjoyed various entertainment including traditional Irish dancing, bag pipes, and much more.
A couple of days later, I began my first day of competition in which I was competing in tennis singles and doubles. I soon learned that my Brazilian doubles partner was unable to attend the event, but it turned out well in the end, as I was able to form a team with Polish athlete Marcin Kosciuk, who I had just met. Because he did not speak much English, nor I much Polish, we had many comical moments over the next five days, trying to communicate strategy using a handheld Polish/English dictionary. Luckily, we forged a strong partnership and battled our way to a silver medal. I also played singles, but after losing to the eventual winner from Hong Kong, I defeated players from Ireland, Canada, and Hong Kong on the way to a bronze medal.
I appreciated all of the support from family, retired member Kim Collum, and Arloa, with whom I was in close contact with throughout the games. I also had the opportunity to meet numerous othe r players from around the world who had come from various fire and police departments. I also made some lasting connections. While I was in Poland visiting family after the Games, my doubles partner drove an hour and half to the airport simply so I could meet his family and he could say goodbye.
I would recommend the Games to anyone thinking of competing. It was an opportunity to compete and strive for the highest level of physical excellence, while meeting amazing competitors from around the world and bonding together in sport.
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