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Naperville's Natalia Dagenhart remembers her days in Sochi

<p>The Olympic rings are seen ahead of the&nbsp;Sochi&nbsp;2014 Winter Olympics at the Laura Cross-Country Ski and Biathlon Center on February 5, 2014 in&nbsp;Sochi, Russia. &nbsp;| &nbsp;Photo by Julian Finney/Getty Images</p>

The Olympic rings are seen ahead of the Sochi 2014 Winter Olympics at the Laura Cross-Country Ski and Biathlon Center on February 5, 2014 in Sochi, Russia.  |  Photo by Julian Finney/Getty Images

On the 7th of February the XXII Winter Olympic Games will start in Sochi – a beautiful city located in the southern part of Russia next to the Black sea and the picturesque Caucasus Mountains.

Sochi is the first city with a sub-tropical climate that will hold Winter Olympic Games. During seventeen days the athletes from 88 countries, which is a record for Winter Olympics, will participate in the most peaceful competition in the world. If all the competitions and fights between the nations would be as peaceful and friendly as Olympic competitions, our planet would become a much better place to live on. Nothing could stop these strong, brave and competitive athletes from coming to Sochi. Terrorist attacks that occurred in Volgograd a few weeks ago shocked the whole world. However, they didn’t achieve the main goal of those who organized them – to scare people and prevent the Olympics in Sochi.

The Olympic Games in Sochi will happen and they will be as safe as possible. As the 2014 Organizing Committee of the XXII Olympic Winter Games and XI Paralympic Winter Games of 2014 in Sochi says, “a set of measures has been developed aimed at ensuring a high level of security for the participants and guests at the Games.” They also note that the guests of the Olympics should be prepared to go through a lot of security checks and “be understanding towards the search and security staff, keeping in mind that it will take extra time to pass through security.”

The events in Volgograd scared me too, because one of my dreams lately was to visit the Olympics in Sochi. However, I couldn’t make it this time, but just thinking about this great event and this beautiful city warms my soul up and brings some pleasant memories from my childhood and adolescent years.

The first memory that I want to share is from the Summer Olympic Games in Moscow in 1980. I was only ten years old, but I remember that summer very well. The Olympics made it unforgettable.

I spent that summer with my grandmother in a little Ukrainian town Rovno, and often I spent my time playing outside with my friends. But not during the Olympics – during those days we leaned towards our TVs and watched the Games with a great interest and passion. I still remember crying when the symbol of those Games – the Olympic Bear – flew away into the sky forever. I still remember his kind smile. I was not the only person crying that day – the cameras showed a lot of people at the stadium that had tears in their eyes saying ‘bye’ to the Olympics and to the Olympic Bear. And thank God, I didn’t know anything about the politics and didn’t realize all that was happening around that great event. For me, it is still one of the sweetest memories of my childhood.

Another memory that I want to share is related to Sochi. I was there only once during the summer of 1988, when I was 18, with my parents and my brother. Sochi welcomed us with warm, nice weather, extremely beautiful nature, interesting architecture and a relaxed, calm environment. I remember spending a lot of time at the white-sand beaches and enjoying the views of the picturesque Caucasus Mountains. Keeping these memories in my heart, I will definitely watch the Olympic Games in Sochi.

Now, being a Russian-American, I am a fan of both countries – Russia and The United States. I want the athletes from both countries to succeed in these Games, and I wish all of them luck. More than that, I want these Games to unite people from all the countries. Hopefully, these Games will help the athletes from different nations unite their spirit and their will to win in a peaceful competition. I truly believe that many of us will enjoy watching these Games. I know that the competition will be tough and some people might get disappointed in something. But as long as the Games are performed in a safe environment and in a friendly atmosphere, they will leave unforgettable memories in our hearts.

Also, the event promises to be very beautiful. The Fisht Olympic Stadium that was built exclusively for the Olympic Games in Sochi is not just a masterpiece of the architectural art, but also so spacious that it is able to welcome up to 40,000 spectators. Building this stadium was an international project with the cost of $603.5 million. It is also located within walking distance of the Olympic Village and very close to the Krasnaya Polyana Mountains to the north of it and the Black Sea to the south.

All these well planned preparations make me think that these Olympic Games are going to be among the most spectacular Games in the history of Olympics. Please watch the Opening Ceremony of the XXII Olympic Winter Games in Sochi on February 7th at 11 a.m. EST and enjoy the Olympics! Natalia Dagenhart

 

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