Sunday, August 24, 2008

What now?

So, what now? It’s a question I’ve been asked a lot in the last few days. It’s a good question.

My plan right now is to take about two or three or months off of diving completely. The longest I have ever been out of the water was for 6 weeks in 2006. I have some mixed feelings about it. Definitely ready for a break, and excited about that. But also a little apprehensive. What will life be like without diving? Without working out 5-6 hours a day?

I am excited about working part time for my sister as a “nanny” to my two nephews, Luke and Brock. They are 1 and 2 and so much fun!

I am also looking forward to putting more energy into the nonprofit organization International Cultural Exchange, or ICx. The basic goal of the organization is to help international students by pairing them with a “friendship family.” This is great for both for the students and the families. The students get the opportunity to experience much more of American culture firsthand, and the families lives are enriched by learning about the students’ lives, countries and culture.

I am about to head out to Closing Ceremonies. I am looking forward to this fun concluding celebration. It has been an amazing month.

Monday, August 18, 2008

A few things to remember

I wasn’t sure how to start this blog post. I have experienced so much in the last few days that I don’t have a clue where to begin.

A few things I want to always remember about last night:

-How awesome I felt before the competition. I had a great warm up. I was “up” and full of adrenaline, but calm at the same time. I couldn’t have asked to be in a better place mentally. This was a stark contrast to how I felt going into the prelims, so it was that much sweeter to feel so ready.

-Knowing when I was done that my coach was truly proud of me. We’ve been in it together for a long time. Both of us were overcome with emotion. I am so thankful I have a coach who cares so deeply.

-Knowing my family would be waiting outside of the pool (and on the phone!) when I was done. And there they were, full of love.

My performance was far from perfect, but at the risk of sounding cliché, I really did give it my
all. I felt great, I went for it, I held nothing back. And I got 8th.

I’ve always been a firm believer in the saying, “The journey is more important than the destination.” And I believe that is true even when I find myself at a slightly different destination than I had dreamed.

I’ve got alot more processing to do over the coming days and weeks. But in the mean time, I plan to soak up every last minute of my time here, cheer my teammates on to their victories, spend some quality time with my family, and of course to do a little shopping.

Sunday, August 10, 2008


In a word, Opening Cereomonies was amazing. Incredible. Indescribable. Wait, that's three words isn't it?

Seriously, though, it was everything I hoped it would be.

Here are a few of us in the training room getting ready to go.

We left from the village as a group and went to the fencing hall--where we met the President! It was truly an honor.

George Bush Sr.

Laura Bush and I

The President of the United States!

We also got to meet the Basketball team!

We then walked over the Gymnastics hall where all of the countries were waiting for their turn to walk over to the stadium and march in. We were sitting high up in the stands as we were toward the end. It was very hot. I really enjoyed getting to see some of the other countries’ uniforms. While we were waiting, there were two pauses in the calling of the countries where they played a few minutes of live feed of the actual show. Although I couldn’t see all of it, what I saw was outstanding!

When it was our turn, we slowly walked over to Stadium. There were volunteers holding hands to form a kind of “wall” blocking off excited fans. Everyone was so excited—it was an electric atmosphere. One of my favorite parts of the evening was when we entered the tunnel right before we entered the stadium. It was so crowded and so exciting. All around me all I could hear were people chanting, “U-S-A!” It was overwhelming as we walked into the Bird’s Nest; it really hit me—I am here at the Olympic Games representing my country. I could hardly contain my emotion.

Once we circled the track, we came to stand in the inner field to watch the rest of the countries march in. Although it was very hot, it was incredible to be surrounded by so many thousands of people from all over the world. The roar was incredible when China was announced. I am from Houston, so I felt a little connection to Yao Ming when I watched him carry the Chinese flag.
The lighting of the torch was amazing. Everyone could see that the torch was high up, and we were all speculating on how it would be lit. My team and I were all thoroughly impressed at how unique, creative and well planned it was.

8-8-08 was truly a night I will never forget!!

Friday, August 08, 2008

Opening Ceremonies TONIGHT!!

Opening Ceremonies are tonight and I am SO SO excited!! All of the athletes that are marching are also going to get to meet and take a picture with the President. How cool is that? Did I mention I'm kind of excited? : )

Thursday, August 07, 2008

Excitment All Around!

It has been a great couple of days. We just got back from a day and a half excursion from the village. On Tuesday, August 5, after our morning practice we set out for Beijing Normal University or BNU. This is where my coach and the other assistant coaches are staying. They have a restaurant there available for all US athletes. The food was awesome! We had a great lunch and then set out for the Courtyard Marriott. We got settled then headed out for an early dinner at a famous restaurant that served Beijing duck, as well as many other dishes. It was great to get to eat such a famous dish at such a famous restaurant.

Kenny, Laura and I at the hotel

After dinner we went to a Chinese Acrobatic Show. It was truly amazing. I saw bodies perform feats of strength, flexibility and balance I didn’t think possible. After the show, we got to go on stage and take a picture with the performers. It was lots of fun.

Although I really enjoyed my meals that day, I actually got pretty sick that night. It was a rough night, but thankfully I felt much better in the morning, and was excited for the day ahead. We were headed to the Great Wall!

AT&T sponsored the trip, and they hired someone from Getty Images to take pictures for us. I haven’t seen them yet, but I really excited for them! I was especially glad he was there because he came to my rescue when my camera ran out of batteries. It was about an hour bus ride out the Wall, and when we got there we rode a Gondola up to the wall. From there we took a ton of pictures and explored up and down it for a while. It is pretty steep and kind of uneven, so it was quite a workout, but truly a great experience to get to see one of the wonders of the world.

So we rode a Gondola up, but we took a toboggan down! It was really fun--definitely the highlight of my trip to the wall. I'll post a pic of that soon.

After we got to the bottom, we did a little shopping, and I got a t-shirt. Then we went to a great little restaurant called The School House. They had great food, but also a shop with lots of handmade glass pieces. We got to see how they make it when they did a glass blowing demonstration for us. It was super interesting. Here is a video of it.

When we went back to the hotel, I opted to go to the Chinese grocery store instead of taking a shower. I don’t know why I am so fascinated by foreign grocery stores, but I am. It is just amazing how different everything is, while there are still familiar things. It was a very busy time so there were a lot of people there.

It was a great day and a half away from the village. However, this morning, it felt good to be back “home.” Practices are going well. I am SO EXCITED for Opening Ceremonies tomorrow. I have been waiting for what seems like an eternity for this day. I really can’t contain how excited I am, and everyone on the team is feeling it too. Less than 24 hours!!

On another note, more and more countries are coming in. Before we left, the village had been pretty quiet, but now many more people are here and there is much more of a “buzz” in the air. I am glad we got here and were able to get settled before a ton of people came. I think I would have been overwhelmed a little if I had just walked into it the way the atmosphere is now. It really is exciting (I keep saying that, don’t I?) But it is!! : )

Saturday, August 02, 2008

Olympic Adventures!

Wow, what a few days it’s been! I am finally here in the village. YAY! The last several days have been filled with all kinds of adventures. On Sunday night we had a send off gala that was quite fancy. We started the evening with a diving show. It was a little strange because we were marched out in front of the crowd, and in many ways it felt like a meet, but with no warm up time, and lots of down time in between march out and when we did our dives. Afterwards, we got showered and all dressed up (the event was casual elegant). The highlight of the evening was receiving a new camera as a gift from Kaiser Permanente. I love it and have been using it a lot in the last few days!

On Monday morning we had a media training and then left for San Jose State. This is where Team Processing is held. We got there Monday evening and got settled. The next day we got to train at Stanford for a few hours in the morning before all of the afternoon activities. We started about 1:30, and I was busy until about 11. There were a bunch of different stations for us to go through; some were: picture taking, ring sizing (and possible upgrading), the option to buy an Olympic leather jacket, a Chicago 2012 promotion station. By far the most exciting, though, was where we got our outfitting!! We had to wait a long time because there was a limited amount of space and lots of people. We each got a shopping cart, and then proceeded to go around to different stations where we could try on all of our apparel. There was so much great stuff by Nike and Ralph Lauren, the USOC Olympic apparel sponsors for this year. It was so fun to get so much awesome USA gear.

After this, we got alterations made on our Opening Ceremonies outfits (which look really good). Then we had a team picture in our Nike track jackets and a Team Briefing where we got some info on what to expect in Beijing and in the village. Now it was time to pack and get ready to go! We were able to ship a box of items home that we wouldn’t need in Beijing. It took awhile, but I finally got all squared away and ready to go. We left bright and early the next morning for the airport.

After a long flight (which was considerably easier since I didn’t have a domestic layover before the SF to Beijing flight), we finally arrived! It was such a great feeling to touch down in Beijing. When I went through customs, my customs officer called someone else over, handed my passport to them, and told me to follow them. Talk about a little disconcerting! This happened to quite a few people. The problem stemmed from a difference in the names on our credential (which also serves as our Visa) and our passport. Everything finally got figured out and we went downstairs to catch a bus to the village.

I was really surprised how beautiful the drive was. Everything was very clean and the landscaping was really well done. This is my 5th time to China, and one of things I usually notice immediately is the laundry hanging from the windows in all of the apartment buildings. Not this time! I didn’t see one piece of clothing hanging up to dry. It really made an impression on me because it is so different from the China I have seen before.

We made it to the village, and got our room assignments. I am rooming with Laura, my teammate from home. We are sharing a suite with Judo one floor above the rest of the divers. I’ve just met the girls once this morning, but they seem really nice.

After we set our stuff down, we went down to the dining hall. The food is really good—there are lots of different kinds to chose from, and even a McDonald's!

Yesterday morning was our first trip to the pool. Before we got in the water, we took a bunch of pictures. I even climbed up to 10M and took some from there. The pool looks great.

There are alot more pictures here: