Hello world again! I know it’s been since August 20 since I last posted anything but going through the China firewall was making it too hard to post anything. Now that I’m back in the USA, I’ll start filling in the gaps of what happened in Beijing since I last wrote. I survived the Olympics, Paralympics and all things in-between. I thought I’d kick off posting with my top Olympic-related moments. Thanks to everyone who kept checking in on this blog even though I’ve been MIA…I appreciate your support and apologize for the lack of content until now. Much more to come, but without further ado:
My Top 10 Olympic Moments
10. USA vs. Japan Baseball Game
This game was not only good because it sent the USA into the medal round but it also got brownie points for Japan. It was 0-0 the entire game which sent the two teams into overtime employing the new rule to speed up the game for the Olympics. The rule starts two players on first and second base at the start of the inning. With this USA quickly nabbed 4 runs and only let Japan grab 2 to win the game. One of the coolest things to see was after the game, the Japanese team showcased great sportsmanship through the mixed zone and took small bows to the USA team and coaches. This unlike the China baseball game reinstated more of a positive cultural and sporting exchange between two teams that I got to witness first-hand.
9. USA vs. China Baseball Game
If baseball reflects American culture, then this game was a microcosm of USA and China relations. It was intense. At one point, USA number 14 Nate Schierholtz slammed into the Chinese catcher who was blocking home base with his body. I later learned this was a legal move on Schierholtz’s behalf but that didn’t stop the China coach from storming the field and throwing a folder and papers into the air. It was a ferocious verbal exchange that one brave Chinese volunteer tried to separate. The Chinese coach got ejected and the game went on. China’s response? As soon as the USA was up to bat, player 44 Mathew LaPorta, gets a ball pitched to his head and lands on the ground eventually having to be carried off the field. China gets two more ejections; the pitcher and the pitching coach. After these not-so-sportsman-like happenings, the whole atmosphere of the stadium changed. Fans were reluctant to cheer and a somber tone carried throughout the evening as USA won the game 9-1. My heart was in my throat most of the time hoping something worse wouldn’t erupt during the game. What does this say about the two countries?
USA player 14 plowing over the Chinese catcher at home base
photo from http://www.nbcolympics.com/baseball/
8. Budweiser Party and Christian Cantwell, USA Silver Medalist for Shot put
Crashing parties and Olympic events became second nature this past August. So one random Monday night, I was hanging out with Laura and I get a phone call from Crysty asking if we wanted to see Michael Phelps at the Budweiser Club, a sponsor club created just for athletes to hang out during the Olympics. We were in! Crysty said that my presence was good luck although all props go to Suzy for talking the bouncer into letting all of us in –5 girls and Marc. We didn’t see Michael Phelps but a lot of other athletes sporting medals around their necks were there all toned and gorgeous. I met Christian Cantwell and talked to him and one of his trainers for awhile which was pretty cool. Somehow I think he misunderstood my connection to St. Louis – I have family there, not from there like he is…ooops!
Me and Cantwell and a USA gold medalist with us, possibly from the rowing team, photo from Crysty
7. VIP Room with the German Basketball Team
To be honest, the only way I knew which people in the VIP room were German basketball players was by seeing the Olympic rings shaved into their heads. And the only way I knew this was because I happened to see an article that morning with a picture of the new hairstyle. Someone definitely had to point out to us who Dirk Nowitzki was—I know, I should know these things. At one point Dirk definitely pointed me out while I was dancing (maybe a little inappropriately) with a German friend somehow affiliated with the team. Shortly thereafter, I was sitting on a bar counter, Dirk was smoking a cigar and sitting on the bar while some jersey-chasing girl was doing a body-shot laying on the bar in-between us. How did we manage this? The marketing manager at Bling, one of my favorite places to dance, called a friend to give her the heads up that the team was going to be there that night. Once we got there, we just walked into the VIP area like we were supposed to be there, and we weren’t shy to consume the free drinks that the cocktail waitresses kept bringing us. Rock star night.
Dirk Nowitzki, photo from Jenna
6. Baseball Men’s Final, South Korea vs. Cuba
I had to watch the 9th inning from the doorway leading to the field from the mixed zone entrance. It was an intense inning. The score was 3-2, South Korea leading when the inning started with Korea at bat. Cuba didn’t let them score at all and went into the bottom of the ninth at 3-2. It came down to one out, two strikes, the bases loaded and one decisive play. The Cuban at bat hit the ball and Korea got a double-out securing Gold. It was intense.
South Korea won 3-2 over Cuba and I’ve never seen so many men more upset than the Cuban players despite taking home Silver. I was in front of their dugout as they had to go through the mixed zone and my heart went out to them. They showed no sign of the slightest bit of happiness even after getting their medals. Their shoulders were slumped throughout the medal ceremony and exited the field shortly afterwards whereas, our American boys who won third were taking pictures like they won Gold! I did get the chance to grab 2 American signatures and one Cuban player’s signature. He let me wear his medal for a picture which was really cool of him…even though neither one of us could understand each other’s language. As the last baseball game in the Olympics, it was truly a historic event that I’m very lucky to have watched.
Me and the Cuban player
5. The 100 meter Men’s Final
As a thank you to the international volunteers, we got tickets to see the 100m men’s final at the Bird’s Nest. On top of the amazing atmosphere, we saw Usain Bolt break a world record before our very eyes and in front of the world. We cheered louder as he approached our section on his victory lap and it didn’t matter that we were waving American flags because the entire stadium was excited about his win. To top it off, the music erupted in Reggae and had thousands of people celebrating while slightly shaking their hips. The background consisted of lights flashing from thousands of cameras wanting to forever capture the moment in time.
Usain Bolt on his victory lap
4. Basketball Men’s Final USA vs. Spain
As I watched from the press tribune I could see David Beckham on the other side of the stadium which he seemed to cheer more loudly for Spain than for the USA team. It was an amazing game and I’ve never seen bigger smiles on any of the players than that night as the USA men’s team stood on the yellow platform while receiving their gold medals. Lebron was jumping on and off it like a kid at Christmas. Afterwards I saw them all parade through the mixed zone and they were happy to hear me and another Emerson friend, as other Americans, congratulate them on a their win that reinstated the USA in its proper place for basketball at the Olympics: at the top.
USA basketball team at medal ceremony
3. USA vs. China Men’s Basketball Game
This was the first basketball game and one, if not the, most important one. Three presidents, including Bush, were in attendance and the Chinese cheered just as loud for their beloved NBA stars as for their own team. I watched it from a stellar position before seeing all the players up close as they were interviewed in the mixed zone. My Chinese supervisor watched the game beside me creating a great Olympic cultural moment! Afterwards I met up with my fellow Emersonians for late-night celebrations at a club in my full volunteer uniform.
Me at the USA vs. China basketball game and in the mixed zone
2. The Closing Ceremony
Yes, I snuck into another major Olympic event more or less. There were 3 stickers to get 3 girls onto the Olympic Green and 2 tickets to get into the Bird’s Nest. We talked a security guard into letting all three of us into the Bird’s Nest. Not only did we get into the Bird’s Nest, we unknowingly barged our way into a VIP area where all of the singers and performers faced while the Closing Ceremony took place. When the London bus stopped in front of us and converted into a stage, I determined at that moment, that in some capacity, I will be in London for the 2012 Games. After the ceremony, we climbed over the fence and took pictures with dancers and athletes and exited through their walkway. Later we walked right into the IBC and crashed a private B.O.B. party. Drank their alcohol and moved onto Bling where Dwight Howard and Chris Bosh made a short appearance….of which I high-fived both of them on their way into the VIP area.
Me at the Closing Ceremony VIP area, us with a British rower in the center of the Bird’s Nest
1. The Opening Ceremony
My first blog on this goes into more detail but this night ranks as one of the best in my life. I snuck into the Olympic Green for the Opening Ceremony with Jenna. Watched it at the MPC and ran to see the fireworks in person, landed a VIP sticker, walked by all the athletes as they exited the Bird’s Nest, walked into the Bird’s Nest from their entrance, then took our own personal tour of the Water Cube and National Indoor Stadium before sleeping at the MPC conference room/the Intercontinental Hotel’s bar couch.
Me and Kobe Bryant, in the Bird’s Nest and in the Water Cube after the Opening Ceremony