The BIG OPENING!

Luckily my event started on august 11th and the opening ceremony was of course on august 8th so it gave me a good amount of time before my event started to recover for the first day.  Much to my surprise only 3 or 4 windsurfers took the journey to Beijing.  Mostly citing possibility of getting sick or being tired, I took the plunge and will savor that experience the rest of my life.  The US sailing team went with team leader, “dean’ and about half of the rest of the sailing team.  We left at 9 AM from Qingdao and went straight to the Beijing Olympic Village. 

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The village was massive with a large sprawl of housing that felt like forever to walk around.  The weather was absolutely oppressive with hotter than florida temperatures and super high humidity and smoggy.  As I mentioned before the Olympic village in Beijing was OK, not nearly as nice as ours in Qingdao, but was cool to be with all the different kinds of athletes from around the world.  Each building was decked out with country flags and murals and rituals from different countries.  Some ,like the  kingdom of Bahrain had inflatable arches and many silly looking pictures of the king everywhere.  Greece had a flag the equivalent size of 5 floors on the side of their building, whilst the US building had only one small 2-3 foot flag on each window of ours.  Seems to me the US team was extremely concerned about being portrayed as “too proud”, my flag on my sail was larger than any I could find in the village identifying us as American. 

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The dining hall in Beijing’s village is massive when we entered we all immediately looked like tourists and got lost from each other.  We ate some and people watched a lot, all kinds of different athletes from everywhere we eating chatting and socializing.  I took some photos with pro cyclist, george hiacappie and US triathlete Hunter Kemper to name a few.  One of our team mates found Amanda Beard and bragged about it for the next two days!  The fun for the day was just getting started. By 5 pm we had to meet together downstairs in complete opening cermonies uniform.  I don’t know if you watched it on TV but that meant suit tie and long pants.and don’t forget 90 degree heat, it was epic hot, I packed my pockets with one camera, one video camera, 2 bottles of water and one cliff bar. 

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We got word at that point our first destination was to the fencing hall to meet with commander and Chief George W Bush.  So off on the busses to the fencing hall and we all organize in the center by sport, each of us would have some time with the president!..very cool indeed.  While waiting the NBA basketball players stroll up and the rest of the teams frenzy to snap photos with them.  Lebron James, Kobe Bryant were the most popular and it was cool to see them with us just relaxing.  After waiting for about an hour, we see some secret service and then we get called back to our teams.  The president sarts off with his speech, which you can see in the video I took, then proceeded to meet and greet the rest of the teams.  He spent ample time with each one, and I was trying to figure out the whole time how to document it, so I just kept the video camera running, and took as many pictures as possible.  My favorite might be the one I couldn’t find anybody to hold the camera and so I “self portraited” myself with the president when he wasn’t quite looking.  He wished me luck and shook my hand in a very firm manner.  After that we snapped photos with the first lady, did I mention she wears a TON of makeup?  Holy cow.  Also talked briefly to his daughter Barbara bush, and she is totally an Olympic fan, and was curious about my sport and training etc..pretty cool. 

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After we met the president we then went to the gymnastics hall which staged all the countries to wait for when they are called for to march in the parade of athletes. By this point we got some boxed lunches that included two cookies, a coke, three pieces of white bread and that’s it.  Kinda rough, I’d say.  In the gymnastics hall it was crazy hot and Sarah and I hung outside until we could handle the hear of the stadium seating inside the hall.  We where amused by the water bottle cooler baracade that the NBA  players had to protect them from crazy fans.  We end up going back to the seating  and we find a seat way in the very front, basically in denmark’s territory.  After about 2 minutes Lebron James sit’s down right next to me, and he’s like what’s up….I was like did Lebron James just sit down right next to me.??!!  We ended up talking for about 10 minutes about the NBA, China, US fans and how cool it was to be an Olympian.  He said were all the same, fighting for the same country enjoying all the experience we could.  Big change from the attitude the US basketball team had in Athens when they completely ignored the rest of the team and made it look silly.  Supposedly in their contracts they had to attend opening ceremonies and participate in all things every other athlete would get without special treatment.  Although they were still staying in the intercontinental hotel in Beijing, so I am sure they weren’t suffering to bad with the village hard beds!  But funny enough after the opening cermonies and everybody is trying to get on a bus, I see Kobe Bryant as well looking for room on a bus as well..pretty amusing to say the least.

 

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The USA team gets called at about 9:40 and we then hurry up and wait outside, and there are tons of fans outside screaming and yelling with police everywhere blocking off crazy fans.  Was a unique experience to say the least.  While outside we continued to sweat profusely and was sure glad I brought all the water with me.  We were already soaked through on the dress shirt and was trying to fan ourselves so we wouldn’t pass out..luckily we were Olympic athletes. 

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Entering the stadium was awesome, the bright lights blind you and we could here the chant of U-S-A., U-S-A, when we entered the stadium, along with 85K people screaming and yelling.  I won’t ever forget those moments, and I taped them as well!  I found out all the cameras where on the outside of the marching circle so I stood just next to the synchronized swilmmiling team because I knew they’d get Tv time. Sure enough my friends from home sent me TV shots of me waving, what an experience.  After the parade we settled in the center of the stadium and watched the rest of the show.  It was super hot at that point, US teams started getting super tired and kept asking each other for water..I kept mine secret. Hey I was thirsty.  We could feel the heat off the flame when they lit the Olympic caldron, totally amazing  to watch first hand.  Also cool was my dad was able to get an opening ceremony ticket and really enjoyed the moments!

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