Sunday, August 17, 2008

Live from Beijing (Part 3)

Finally, here's a list of interesting things/insights/happenings in the games and around the city.

-I was impressed with the level of play in the women's basketball games. Entering the first basketball game, Russia vs. South Korea, I mistakenly thought that women's basketball was a joke. However, all the players were very good ball handlers, played good defense, and had range from the field.
-The exception to the aforementioned good play was the Belarus point guard, #4. I'm sorry if I'm being a little harsh, but she was by far the worst player on the court in both Belarus games that we saw. I have no idea why she was starting, since her stat line for both games was something like 1-5 from the field, with 6 turnovers and maybe 2 assists. Against South Korea, she almost singlehandedly allowed South Korea back into the game; in the second half, she bounced the ball off her foot out of bounds when she was taking it up the court and repeatedly dribbled into corners, either losing the ball or stepping out of bounds. She also had a strange, out-of-control style of dribbling and did not contribute anything to Belarus (her passes were all hand-offs or throws around the perimeter) except for one breakaway, two-handed layup that she threw off the backboard and somehow got to go in.
-Diana Taurasi, an American guard, and Isabel Sanchez, a Spanish player, were mixing it up during the U.S. vs. Spain game. They had already been exchanging pushes and shoves early in the 2nd quarter, and after Sanchez was called for carrying, the two got in each other's faces, but no technicals were called. The head referee did bring the two over in a huddle to speak to them, during which Taurasi strangely placed her hand on the ref's hindside for about 15 seconds.
-An Italian volleyball player, #11, was very insistent on having the floor around him clean. After almost every point, he called in the blue-shirted volunteers to wipe the court with their towels, which took about 15 seconds and became rather annoying by the 3rd and 4th sets.
-The Brazilian libero, Sergio, appeared to be high on Red Bull for the entire match. He carried out huge Tiger fist pumps after every point that Brazil won, and generally pranced around the court when he was in and around the bench when Brazil was serving. I do admit, though, that he was very entertaining to watch.
-The American weightlifter, Chad Vaughn, had a very long pre-lift routine, in which he performed a quirky head shake that actually made the crowd laugh at him. Right before he lifted the barbell, he tilted his head to the side and sort of wagged it a couple of times. The crowd was surprised the first time, but chuckled at him every other time.
-Erkand Qerimaj, the Hungarian lifter, looked to both sides with a smirk on his face and nodded while holding his finish in the clean & jerk. The crowd absolutely loved it, and he went on to take a couple of bows and wave.
-Ever since it rained for the entire day on the 11th, the skies in Beijing have been blue, with few clouds and no smog. It also poured again on the 14th.
-We were fortunate enough to be able to play a round of golf at Pine Valley Golf Club, on the morning of the 14th before the rain. The private golf clubs in China are apparently just as nice as the clubs in America; in the clubhouse, there was a board with tacks that implored the members to vote on the color design for the club's private plane (the initiation fee at Pine Valley is $500,000)
-Some gas stations in China don't allow people to fill up during thunderstorms. For some reason, the employees at the station that we were at said that it was dangerous.
-The organizers liked playing music and showing animations on the video screens during every break in play. We heard everything from Linkin Park to Juanes to Chinese pop. In several events, we also saw an interesting message on the screen, urging the crowd: "Let's do the Mexican wave" (see the picture).

-The toilets in a lot of public places in Beijing are just holes in the ground. It's rather strange.
-The "Water Cube" swimming arena isn't even a cube. I'm not even sure if it's a square in length and width, and it's definitely not as tall as it is lengthwise on either side.
-We witnessed more interesting driving around the city. On a one-way, three lane road out of a train station, we saw a taxi driving slowly down the right hand the other direction. We also drove past another car on a one-way road going in the opposite direction (I'm pretty sure we were going the legal way).
-We visited a large shopping center called Silk Street/Pearl Market in the center of the city that sold basically everything imaginable for 1/10 of the normal price. I think most of it was fake, but we did manage to buy a Swiss army knife for 4 dollars, a Breitling/Bentley watch for 25 dollars, and a lot of clothing at extremely low prices. We also saw members of several Olympic teams there, including some Russian, Italian, and Jamaican athletes.
-Finally, I have to reiterate that the locals are all very kind and friendly. At the U.S. vs. Spain basketball game, a woman in the row in front of us heard us speaking English and turned around and offered us an American flag. In general, everyone we have talked to has greeted us with a smile and treated us kindly.

Sorry about the time difference between posts. I had some problems with the internet connection.

Only a week of games left...enjoy the Olympics while they last!

1 Comment:

Noel said...

"Let's do the Mexican wave" hahaha wonderful.