Saturday, August 9, 2008
Amazing. Fantastic. Exhilarating. Beautiful. Nothing I can write will do justice to what was the 2008 Opening Ceremonies. The Chinese have put on an incredible and extraordinary show; one that captivates the mind and enlivens the senses - its magnificence touches the very core of the human heart.
Our opening ceremonies experience started early in the day @ 5:15 - and like most days here in Beijing, it was incredibly hot and humid. Dressed in our Gatsby-esque Polo outfits, the perspiration started immediately as we walked out of our building. Our first stop en route to the Birds Nest was at the Fencing Center where we mingled with other athletes and awaited the arrival of President Bush.
It was amazing to be in a room filled with so many talented athletes. President Bush arrived with an entourage of people including his father President George H.W. Bush, his wife, First Lady Laura Bush, the Secretary of the Treasury, and many others...After making some remarks, the President mingled with the Olympians and took a picture with each team.
As I was standing in the room, I had an incredible thought - I was in the same room with two Presidents of the United States, various high ranking public officials, the Dream Team (including Lebron, Kobe, Chris Paul and other stars), and many other incredible athletes. I had to pinch myself to make sure I wasn't dreaming.
After the photo-op with the president, we made a trek to the Gymnasium Hall that served as the staging area for the walk to the Birds Nest. We waited in the hall for what seemed like hours in the sweltering heat until our number 140 was called. We left the gymnasium and made our way toward the main event. We had a long walk in the hot heat - and finally reached the tunnel leading into the National Stadium. TEAM USA started chanting U - S - A as our time to march approached. The sound of U - S - A reverberating in the tunnel sent a cold chill up and done my spine - then they announced our country and our march around the track began.
Now, I never realized how difficult it was to wave for such a long period of time (especially in a sports coat). My right arm ached as I gazed up into the crowd at all of the spectators, but nothing could hinder the enthusiasm I felt as I walked with my teammates around the track. I was extremely thrilled to see numerous American flags being raised with pride in the stands. When our march ended we took our place in the center of the track and awaited the lighting of the Olympic Torch.
With our blazers thoroughly soaked, it finally came time for the lighting of the Torch. Chinese Olympians and star athletes ran the flame around the National Stadium; all minds were wondering how the Torch (which was high above at top of the Stadium) was going to be lit. To our amazement, we watched as the former Chinese gymnast was hoisted into the air, and made his captivating "run on air."
Now, it is night time here in Beijing, and as I write this post and prepare myself for bed, I need to "put to bed" (as our coach always says) all of the excitement and hype of the Opening Ceremonies. It is time to focus in on what is most important, performance on the hockey field. Tomorrow at 6:30 pm (6:30 am Eastern Time) we will play Argentina in our first Olympic match. Go USA!
Posted by Rachel Dawson