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Pilgrim Monument, line drawing by Ewa Nogiec
Australia, Aboriginal Lands, Convicts, Gay Games VI
November 18, 2002




Greetings from 'Team Provincetown'


The Opening Ceremonies extravaganza at Aussie Stadium dazzled over 13,000 athletes and 30,000 spectators from around the world.

The ceremony was staged in segments that included: Prelude, Athletes March Into Stadium, The Welcome, Struggle: Persecution & Perseverance, Remembrance, Acceptance: Love & Pride, Celebration: Under New Skies, Official Opening, Finale. Featured artists included K D Lang, Jimmy Somerville, soprano Deborah Cheetham plus others, and a large cast of dancers and chorale performers.

The venue consisted of a large volcano shaped stage in the center and a large four tiered stage at the end of the stadium where performers and emotional speeches were delivered by dignitaries such as keynote speaker Justice Kirby, Gay Games Co -chairs, officially opening the games Marie Bashir, The Governor of New South Wales, and all culminating in the volcano erupting and a fireworks display. Truly the best opening Gay Games ceremony ever staged.

The Games are about 'Inclusion'. For me Steve Kovacev, always being a long distance runner, I dreamed of being part of these games when I first heard about them being started in 1982. I now have been part of the last four Gay Games. In that experience the bittersweet part of making new friends is also part of this community. In Gay Games V Amsterdam '98, I met Dirk and Lydia. Lydia headed the athletes with disabilities outreach. She was there to help me at the finish line in '98 along with my new friend Dirk. He died from AIDS, six months later. Lydia helped me through another bout of pneumonia and return to the U.S.

Now here in Sydney, I saw her looking so fit and healthy at registration for the Games at Sydney Town Hall. We hugged and cried. A grieving process for Dirk we could now have. She said my story and marathon running inspired her to train. She would compete in the first wheelchair division for the 10K held as part of the games.

A week of trying to cover events and training for the marathon left my already compromised immune system overloaded. The night before the marathon I had sinus problems and stomach upset. I was still determined to compete.

Sydney and most of Australia is facing the longest drought recorded since 1850 coupled with bushfires, heavy spring pollen and their hottest spring temperatures close to 100 degrees Fahrenheit. In other words, Saturday Nov. 9th was sweltering brutal, and rumours that the marathon would be canceled. We were up at 4:30 a.m. and off to Sydney Olympic Park where most events were held throughout the week. All runs started at 7:00 a.m. A timely start was crucial due to the severe heat conditions. However, hundreds of athletes were stranded at the shuttle station. The shuttle to Olympic Park was delayed from 6 a.m. and finally arrived at 7 a.m.! We arrived at the Olympic Park at 7:10 a.m. Rick and I had prepared by picking up our race numbers and timing chips the day before.

There was an attempt that morning to cancel the marathon. But after protests from many runners, officials decided instead to shut it down an hour early due to the extreme heat. With my own health concerns, 100 T-cells, a broken heel from this year's Boston Marathon, my illness the night before, I had no intentions of what the originator of the marathon, Phidippides, did in ancient Greece. He died at the end of his 26-mile run into Athens after telling the Athenian citizens the war was won in Marathon against the Persians.

Disabled athletes were advised not to run. So, I down graded my run to the half-marathon. Despite all my concerns and my circumstances, I finished the half-marathon net time in two hours, twenty-five minutes. Rick, running his first road race ever, finished a respectable forty-nine minutes net time for the 10k run. Without re-breaking my heel and feeling relatively okay, we thank the 'Great Spirit' God for a successful run.

At the finish area the head of the medical division came up to me and offered congratulations and thanked me for heeding her advice not to attempt the full marathon. She stated that some athletes were taken on stretchers to the hospital. It made common sense to stop the marathon at the pre-determined time of 4 hours.

Provincetown, you were represented. You had a presence that would otherwise have been missing at the Gay Games VI, Sydney. At the start of opening ceremonies we proudly carried Provincetown's banner and then displayed the banner from our balcony in Sydney. Located in Sydney's gay Mecca, Darlinghurst. We heard so many comments from seeing our Provincetown banner. They ranged from loving our town to wanting to visit it.

With many sponsors to thank: the Provincetown Visitor Services Board, Bayside Betsy's, Bubala's, The Crown & Anchor, CCB+T, Filling Station-Truro, Lembas, The Lobster Pot, LIP, Mussel Beach Health Club, Provincetown.com, Spiritus. The backing of ASGCC, FIAR, HOW, Aus-Vactions, Swim for Life and many others with their emotional as well as financial support. Our team shirts compliments from D Flax gave Provincetown more visibility.

Most important is the love that sustains us all that came through.

I thank you all for allowing me to get here, and special thanks to my Sydney hosts Craig and Jon. --Stephen Kovacev

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Stephen Kovacev and Rick Kemmerer,
Provincetown's representation at the Gay Games VI and Cultural Festival
Sydney, Australia Nov. 2-9, 2002.

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Fishing Boat line drawing by Ewa Nogiec

If I can say "I am Provincetown" so can YOU :)

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