Saturday, August 23, 2008

One Family, One Dream

So here's a brief post on our Olympic's  extravaganza. First of all, 2 wonderful friends volunteered to manage the kid zoo while we were gone. They are both caring and brave. We boarded the train and arrived fairly late into Beijing the night before the competition.

Tired, we headed to Starbucks for the 'breakfast of champions.' As you can tell from the picture above, we had to leave early to get to the Water Cube in time. So almost 3 hours before it started, we headed out for a LONG journey to the Cube. It was pouring down rain. I have never seen that many security check-points in my life. But we made it.

The fam made some t-shirts for the event. The kids were only cheering for China, so we made the shirts and explained to them that we could cheer for BOTH countries. After they talked with Laura on the phone and made the t-shirts, they were really excited to cheer for America. Here's we are inside the Water Cube sporting the threads. We even had people take pictures of us in our shirts, albeit with some runny poster paint, from the rain.

Here's the gang right after she finished semi's. She dove wonderfully and was 6th after semi's. Her arm was hurting, but she performed wonderfully. We were some of the only Americans in the crowd, but we made sure to make ourselves known.

We had tickets for the semi-finals, but no way to watch the finals. But this man here (Laura's husband) hooked us up with some diving association lady who sold us some finals tickets!!! So in between matches, we went to a sponsor's area. Each Olympics, they have a selected sponsor that provides a place for the family and friends of the athletes to go and hang out, eat, check email, get massages and meet other families. Ya, it was really boring : ). Especially if boring is defined as watching events in hi def, while eating a lot of delicious free food, getting free massages, watching the girls volleyball win and then one hour later, sitting next to them. I even used the bathroom 3 times because the trash can next to the toilet opened automatically. After screaming of surprise the first time (and being in the men's bathroom by accident), I figured the place out and we had a blast.

The picture below is one of those immature jr. high pictures that you take of someone, but are actually taking the picture of the people in the background. It's the girl's volleyball team and their families behind our table. One little boy's hat said "Go Mom!"

I just couldn't resist her.

We hung with the family all day until her finals at 8 pm. They are all wonderful. And Brad was on cloud 9 after the massage lady asked if he was an athlete. From then on, everything became a competition between he and Eriek--including breakfast. I've never heard french toast referred to as "how's your sissy french toast, man?" We were almost late after our taxi driver got lost. I'm not sure how he had no idea where the Water Cube was, but he didn't have a clue. I asked tons of cops to help get her parents through the insane security line quicker and just got a "no way" from all of them. Something we've learned in China is that you just have to be patient and keep asking. You'll finally get what you need. So I found a compassionate volunteer who let them skip the line and were ushered to a personal security area. We got there with about 30 minutes to spare.

We had a blast watching her. She did great. It was emotional for everyone, as we watched her count down her last 5 dives of her career. As you probably saw on tv, you could javelin throw those tiny little Chinese divers across the water cube. The bronze medal winner is about 62 pounds. Selah's about 50 pounds....but she's SIX.

Here's we are outside the water cube, after her finals.

The bird's nest and torch. It was minutes after this picture that we got a phone call from our friend inside the nest to tell us about the American flubs on the 4 x 100.

The area is beautiful. Beijing did a fantastic job.

The day after her competition, their family and we all went to eat at a Tex-Mex place in town. We almost lost credibility when we told them there's a great Tex-Mex place called "Pete's". I guess that's not very Tex-Mex sounding-maybe Pedro's?? Anyway, and then we told them that they have great breakfasts. "Tex-Mex for Beijing?" But they were gracious and played along and ended up having a wonderful meal. We cannot believe we got to do so much amazing stuff. And we got a great chance to get to know everyone so much better. It was a nice break for us and a blessing to get to be a part of the Olympics.
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