Thursday afternoon Team USA athletes Allyson Felix, Aries Merritt and Ashton Eaton went to Moscow’s Red Square for a “photo op” along with Australia’s Sally Pearson, Japan’s Koji Murofushi, Grenada’s Kirani James and a few others. It was arranged by the Moscow Local Organizing Committee (LOC) and the IAAF.
Photo Credit - IAAF
Red Square is something to behold. St. Basil’s Cathedral sits majestically, towering over the The Kremlin. The breathtaking cathedral reminds some of ice cream cones, others of candy. “It is the iconic symbol of Russia,” one LOC volunteer proudly proclaimed.
The cobblestone street leading up to the center of the Kremlin doesn’t serve well the high-heeled tourists and children tumbling about in a space that houses the Russian head of state and Lenin’s tomb. On the bus ride from the hotel, the athletes were talking about buildings in Europe and were in awe of the history of Russia’s capital city. One Australian official with the group joked, “we saw a building in London that was built in the 1500s. That’s 200 years before our country was even founded.”
A crowd of about 300 tourists gathered around for photos with and autographs from athletes during the short event. Journalists from Japan to London were present to ask about their impression of the square.
“It’s phenomenal,” said Aries Merritt, “The history and architecture are amazing. This is an amazing place and I’m looking forward to competition starting in a few days.”
Allyson Felix echoed Merritt’s sentiments. “In the U.S., our buildings are a couple hundred years old; here they’re centuries old and I enjoy the different styles of architecture and the uniqueness of each building.”
Fans of the sport are everywhere. Wearing their favorite items from USATF’s “Moscow Collection” of merchandise, the three U.S. athletes acted as much like tourists as the hundred of people who were actually tourists. A photo in front of St. Basil’s was a must. Fans stopped them for autographs and photos. The adoration is evident and it bodes well for an event that begins in just two days.