August 8, 2008
Opening ceremonies were tonight. As many of you will see it was incredible. I have never been so lost in a presentation before. Everything that happened was magnificent and amazing. We actually started at about 5:00PM here. We all dressed at the village and then the entire USA team traveled in buses to the venue, I can’t remember what it was. Anyways, while every team was there we all took pictures with other athletes and got to know some of them. It was really cool because it seemed like everyone was ok with taking pictures because they were fellow athletes. I got quite a lot of pictures and actually wasted too much of my battery. By the time I got to the Opening Ceremonies, my camera died. At first I was really disappointed about it but then realized that I was able to get really captivated into the moment by just watching instead of always trying to catch a picture of it. Probably was for the better for me.
We got to meet President Bush and former President Bush last night as well. The current President took pictures with every U.S. team and wished us all luck. It was something that I won’t forget. He was a very down to earth guy and very supportive of us. He might have to be now that I think about it but he seemed genuine.
After meeting the President, we were put in the gymnasium so to speak. It’s the place where the gymnastic events will be held. Every country was in there waiting for the Opening Ceremonies to start and waiting for their country to be called to walk into the arena. Out of 204 countries, we were number 140. I heard that the order was determined by some Chinese alphabet they used. Didn’t make sense to me how it worked at all. What I am about to describe to you is going to seem probably very jumpy and sporadic but I cant explain all the feelings and sights that I saw. We entered from underneath this huge tunnel and right before we went out we all started chanting “U.S.A.”…It gave me chills and fired me up all at the same time. Then as we come to the opening to go out on the track, we were met by thousands and thousands of people, bright lights, flags, camera flashes. I felt like I was coming out of the tunnel for game seven of the NBA Finals or something, but on a much bigger scale. Then as we made our round in the stadium, we obviously waved to everyone but that is when I realized how much you really pull for your own country, because as we were walking we would see American flags every once in a while and you could tell that every athlete was doing there best to single them out and wave specifically to them. It was just breathtaking.
Then to fast forward through the heat, humidity, and sweated through clothes, we get to the lighting of the torch. That was the most unbelievable thing I had ever seen. To see this guy get hoisted up – I don’t know how many feet – and then basically swing through the air all the way around the stadium to stop and light the torch was just unbelievable. And when we finally witnessed the torch light up and heard the thunderous roar of the flame and the crowd we were so excited and relieved. Excited to get started and to play, and relieved that it was finally over. We had to stand in the heat for about four or five hours and sweat. So, when the torch finally lit, it was a mad scramble to get to the buses to get home. It was actually disappointing to feel like that because Jackie Chan was singing at the end. It was pretty cool to see him as well. But the sights, sounds, feelings, and experiences are ones that I will never forget. I will cherish them forever and will always remember the opening ceremonies of Beijing 2008.