It will be an amazing sight to see the best athletes from around the world congregated in one place. This will also make it a memorable experience for those who are allowed to march behind the flag.
Jon Lugbill understands that feeling. Lugbill, now the executive director at Sports Backers Richmond, was once a world-class kayaker. He participated in the canoe race slalom in 1992 and marched into Barcelona's Olympic Stadium as part of Team USA.
Lugbill said, "It really does come across that this international event is huge." It is overwhelming because of its size and magnitude.
Kellie Wells, a James River graduate, would be taking the Olympic stage in London 20 years later. Her Opening Ceremony experience was different. She did not compete in the 100-meter hurdles. However, her coach encouraged her skip the festivities.
Brinkley explained, "He explained that it takes about eight to nine hours of your day just sitting, walking, and waiting." He didn't want us walking our races off of our legs.
Lugbill made that walk during his Olympic journey, and was able to stand shoulder-to-shoulder with Olympic stars. The 1992 basketball Dream Team had the kayaker march in their delegation.
Brinkley stated that they had a watch party, ordered great food, and watched the Opening Ceremonies. "I felt like they were there, but I wasn’t there physically."
Lugbill was also confronted with another reality as he looked around the stadium during the 1992 games.
"Tanks, armored personnel carriers, attack helicopters are all around the stadium. You start to realize that we could be a target for terrorist attacks."
Lugbill would place fourth in his one Olympics while Brinkley won the bronze medal in 2012. They are aware that the Olympians this year will learn valuable lessons and experience over the next two week that go far beyond just sports.
Lugbill observed, "If things seem uncertain, or if there are difficulties, I know that you can persevere if you work hard and do the right thing." "The Olympics really helped me define that."
Brinkley said, "Just take in every minute, soak it all up, and enjoy all the beautiful, wonderful things that you are doing." "Just take a moment to appreciate the beauty along the way."
After 12 News Today, the Tokyo Olympics Opening Ceremony will begin at 6:55 a.m.