Summer and friendship at the Championships

by Evans Yonson

(Note: Originally posted at the Official Website of the 14th IAAF World Junior Championships BCN 2012, English version and Spanish version.)

Barcelona – This I have experienced in the years that I have been here for my studies – the countless days in the beach, the barbeque parties in Castelldefells, the performances in the Grec, the concert nights in the Montjuic Castle grounds, the marvelous evenings at the Sagrada Familia or the Magical Fountain, the weekend walks along Las Ramblas, and many more. But summer is best remembered for meeting new friends.

Known for its warm and gentle people, this year Barcelona again plays host to another international sporting event, the 14th World Junior Championships (WJC) of the International Association of Athletics Federations (IAAF). This is another great chance to meet new friends not only from Catalunya but also from the rest of the world.

In 2010, the European Athletics Championship was held here. The Olympic Stadium was refurbished especially the tracks thus giving the Lluis Companys sports arena a new look. I remember working for the TV compound where broadcasting companies from all over Europe were gathered in one single ground. I was one of two Filipino-volunteers and there were more than a thousand volunteers in this great event.

From that I remember Marta (Barcelona), Daniel (Basque Country), Mar (Mexico), Levi (London), Francois (Paris), and Piotr (Warsaw), among others. We have become great friends since then. We all exchange news through Facebook. I get to see Marta once in awhile. Daniel is in US at the moment. Levi is volunteering for the 2012 London Olympics. Francois and I had dinner once in Paris. Piotr will be here in September.

This year, the 20th anniversary of the Barcelona Olympics and 100th year of IAAF, is definitely the best time to be in Barcelona.

The WJC Barcelona 2012 has 900 volunteers ranging from 16 years old to 80. The Championships souvenir program says that there are five Asian volunteers. Definitely, I am the only Filipino this time. In the media team, I have met new friends.

From Barcelona, there’s the smart Alba, the mighty Jaime, the dynamic Lidia, and the talented Oscar. Alejandro (Madrid), another Barcelona 2010 veteran-volunteer, is a future TV broadcaster. Oscar (Mexico) is probably the most energetic one in the crowd. And who would forget the jolly Milica (Serbia)?

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I couldn’t afford to befriend the other 894 volunteers but I know this encounter being with the six volunteers is truly a lifetime experience. An athlete can never win all his races but certainly be victorious in goodwill and friendship.

As Barcelona 2012 comes to its triumphant end, I cannot help but be nostalgic of the six days that we sat together, cheered for our favorite athletes and laughed at each other’s joke in the Olympic Stadium. This is just the beginning.

And as the Freddie Mercury and Montserrat Caballé song goes, “if God is willing, we will meet again, someday.”

Viva, Barcelona!