WHEATING MEETING WORLD WONDERS
Monday, August 11, 2008
Olympian Andrew Wheating is on the scene of the 2008 Summer Olympics in Beijing and writing a journal for goducks.com as he prepares for the men's 800 meters.
In his first journal entry, Andy writes about the flight to China, gear from the USOC and the amazing 2008 Opening Ceremony.
Well, we didn't get off to a great start. We (Nick Symmonds and I) got a call at 11 p.m. the day before our scheduled departure to let us know that our flight was canceled. That was a little bit of a hiccup, but we managed to find our way down to San Jose to meet up with the rest of Team USA.
I had heard rumors that the athletes were given a shopping cart to gather their equipment and uniforms...this rumor soon turned to a straight fact! We arrived at team processing and were given a Home Depot shopping cart, walked through the doors and were overwhelmed with the clothing lined up to be doled out to us. We were given two massive blue travel bags each imprinted with "USA Track and Field" full of clothing. That night I could not resist, I opened up each bag and just flung all the gear I was given into the air like leaves on a Vermont fall day!
The flight to Beijing was 12 hours! That's 10 hours longer then my attention span could put up with. Luckily I was strapped down with the entertaining Kung Fu Panda, which is actually a pretty funny movie. Upon arrival, we were escorted by police squad cars, who took us to the Olympic Village; so cool! At the Village, it is so unbelievable how well-treated we are. Free arcade games, free soda/water/juice/whatever, with a food court the size of two Mac Courts filled with a cornucopia of foods...FOR FREE!
Later, Opening Ceremonies came around and man was that a ride. We all had our special tailored outfits and we made our way to the Olympic stadium...for fencing. All the U.S. athletes were addressed by President George W. Bush who told us, "Go for it, give it all you got, and god bless ya." Which was enough for me to get pumped up. We also were hanging out with Lebron James and Kobe Bryant as well as the rest of the U.S. basketball team. Nick, Christian (Smith), and I managed to chat it up a bit with LJ and managed a picture out of it. The three 800 guys pretty much float together. We also saw (swimmer) Michael Phelps walking around earlier, that was pretty cool, we kept our cool though and just mingled by.
We spent a good seven hours moving around shuffling from one building to the next until we finally were within eye sight of the entrance to the stadium. When I stepped out on the stage I was blown away with how many people were there. I didn't feel scared, shy or nervous at all. It just felt like one gigantic party where I was one of "x" amount of athletes invited to partake. I was dancing around on the infield so pumped up from having so many people shouting encouraging words at us. It doesn't matter that we're in China, the U.S. is well-liked here judging by the applause from the crowd. Galen Rupp and I had to snag a picture of ourselves throwing up the "O"s on the infield. Then everything started to settle down and I began to get really tired...then Jackie Chan came out and started singing to us as we were heading for the exits. JACKIE CHAN!! The only thing I was wondering was "Where's Chris Tucker?"
Anyway, I also wanted to let everyone know that we are very safe here. Little black cars follow us around when we go out for runs, there are men with microphones in the sleeves of their pockets, it's pretty legit. They close down roads for us when we are traveling around by bus. It really is paradise out here; it's a shame we can't really experience the vacation part of this trip. But we're still managing to have fun regardless.
Well, that's just about it for now. Oh! And I'm doing a little running here too, I'm feeling great, workouts are phenomenal, we'll be ready to go come August 20th.