Friday, August 22, 2008

Olympics LiveBlog (Day 5)

*Note, I will be adding photos later; no current access to computer outside of Internet Cafes

From a competition standpoint, day 6 was a light one, only the prime time Track events in the Bird's Nest. Nevertheless, it was our first foray into the Nest and thus, made it a much anticipated event! We spent the morning waiting out a torrential downpour (which you would have seen if you saw any highlights of the women's 20 km racewalk or the women's beach volleyball final) before we made our way to the forbidden city to walk the grounds and learn about the 4,563 concubines maintained by the emporor in imperial times - must have been a busy guy! We traversed the approximate 2 hours it took to get from the forbidden city to the Bird's Nest (actual travel distance is about 5 miles) and the multiple levels of security. The Bird's Nest itself is an absolutely spectacular venue, and, as an added bonus, has restrooms with actual toilets rather than the squat toilets preferred at most Chinese public restrooms. The attached photo shows Olympics Greens Plaza on a drizzly afternoon. Sadly, my camera batteries died on this day before I was able to capture any of the splendor inside the Bird's Nest



It sprinkled a bit during about 30 minutes of the competition, but remained cool and breezy for the major competitions. The highlights:
- Jeremy Warriner giving up in the 400 m when he realized how far he trailed LeShawn Merritt; while Neville dove across the finish line to get the bronze - way to be Olympian Jeremy!
- The US team choking not once, but twice in the 4 by 100m relay when they dropped the baton on the final exchange of the men's and women's relay semis when they had a clear lead and path to the finals. Fortunately, the men's team probably did not cost itself a gold medal as Jamaica looked dominant.
- Usain Bolt has no ego issues. As one day after being criticized by the head of the IOC for his celebrations, he once again struck several poses after being serenaded by the entire Stadium, as it was his 22nd birthday (Bolt made an appearance because they had to redo the medal ceremony for the men's 200M as a couple of medalists were disqualified).
- we had memorized the Jamaican national anthem by the end of the evening.
- The greatest part of the Olympics is seeing and hearing the fans of the different countries cheer on and celebrate their athletes. We had enthusiastic Jamaicans and Ukrainians in our section, and it made it immensely entertaining.
- what was supposed to have been a coronation for Liu Xiang in the 110m hurdles backfired after Liu withdrew in the prelims. The planned final victory ceremony of the night for the winner of the 110m hurdles was attended by about 1,000 people as the fans filed out en masse during the running of the 400m heats for the men's decathlon.
(Just one more Olympic LiveBlog to go! Tomorrow night - we wrap up with one final night at the Bird's Nest for the final night of track and field).

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