I have not scored a single goal for the United States, nor have I twizzled at the Iceberg Skating Palace or laid down a sick Double McTwist 1260 in the Rosa Khutor Extreme Park during my 16 days to date at the Sochi Winter Olympics.
Nonetheless, this being Russia, land of official documents, I received today my official Participation Certificate, which is printed on glossy cardstock with the Olympic rings in the upper right corner and my full name in blue, positioned just above the Sochi 2014 official slogan, “Hot. Cool. Yours.”
My certificate, which comes in a fancy envelope, does not note the number of stories and blog posts I have filed as a journalist covering my seventh Olympic Games. Nor does it note my personal triumph in overcoming a poor attitude when the workdays have been darkest. Most happily, it does not note that I mocked the official slogan via Twitter on Day 2, when the wireless was sketchy and construction workers whiled away the hours chain-smoking at the entrance to my half-built media dorm.
All my certificate declares is that I, Elizabeth Clarke, took part. And none other than Thomas Bach, president of the International Olympic Committee, and Dmitry Chernyshenko, President and CEO of the Organizing Committee of the XXII Olympic Winter Games, testify to that, with their signatures at the bottom.
In true Russian fashion, before I commit my Certificate of Participation to a frame, I’m determined to find a Sochi 2014 bureaucrat to validate it with an official stamp.