Ok, so the Games are over. Over dinner with friends, Rob Gauthier of the LA Times and I were talking about how during the middle of the Games, we felt like it’d never end. But then, the night after the Closing Ceremonies, we wondered where did the time go?
Well, here is the Mother Load of images:
• Shot the men’s 800m prelims for the RG last Wednesday. Here are some images inside and out of the Bird’s Nest.
After the match, the volunteers set up a carpet for the medal ceremony. They spent a long time trying to get everything perfect, including sweeping sand off the rug. Of all the things to worry about at a beach volleyball venue…
On my way to the media bus, I was a little slow. Then I realized there were moments about to happen, as athletes and family members of the U.S. and Chinese teams were reunited. Well worth missing the bus for.
• On Friday night, I caught the basketball semi-finals, just in case there was an upset of Team Redeem. There wasn’t. In the other game, Spain beat Lithuania to assure themselves of at least the silver.
• On Saturday, I blew off the events to find city slums that have been blocked from public view. Cathy knew this place near her work that was exactly what I had read about. From the highway, all you can see is this long facade decorated with wall paper of blue skies and green pastures – and the Olympic theme of One World, One Dream. On the other side were the slums. Nothing was going on until later, after we had met up with KG to share the scene.
The only event I shot was the gold medal game of men’s basketball. I realized after talking with Strazz and Rob that what made watching the Redeem Team fun was that they actually cared. You don’t see that in the NBA until late in the playoffs. For me, this was a real treat.
After the jube, I wandered onto the court and found Coach K by himself, heading towards the stands. While the masses swarmed around Kobe and LeBron, I had this quiet moment to myself with him and Mrs. Coach K.
On the bus back to the MPC, we were stopped at a light next to a public bus. The Olympic media bus system was awesome. Very punctual and efficient. But it also kept members of the media separated from the public – and vice versa. I thought of that while seeing this scene. I feel lucky to have experienced the Games from both inside and outside the Olympic bubble.
The Closing Ceremonies didn’t hold much interest to me. But Kevin noticed this group of volunteers watching them on a large screen TV in the media entry. They went berserk when David Beckham appeared.
Monday night was really our only chance to meet up with friends for dinner. During the Games, everyone’s schedule was crazy and sporatic. It was nice hanging and relaxing with Strazz, Detrick, KG, Rob and Cathy, who found us this hidden gem of a restaurant in a mall. They had killer Peking Duck.
On Tuesday, I grabbed coffee at a Starbucks, only to bump into PDX AP shooter Rick Bowmer and his better half, Sheila. Small world. Rick was holed-up at the boxing venue for the two weeks. Was nice and funny to see him. The two of them will be here in China for another week, taking in the sights.
So, the city feels a little weird right now. The Games are over, without much disruption – a huge relief to the Chinese. They can claim to have hosted a successful Olympics. And I imagine the city will get closer to reclaiming its true identity. Many of the restrictions for transportation, etc. remain in place for the Paralympics, which begin a week from Saturday.