A Beautiful Saturday Interrupted By Violence; and the Rain Came

Aug. 10, 2008, 11:08 p.m. (ET)
I rode out to Shunyi with Bill McMillan on Saturday afternoon to watch our slalom team's final workout. It's about an hour's drive from most of the central Beijing facilities. The adjacent slalom and rowing/kayak sprint venues are quite impressive, huge, in fact. Very park-like, but so large they have over-sized golf carts to ferry guests around, sort of Disney World-like.

Our athletes looked great. Everyone was very upbeat. Lot's of smiles. Benn said he couldn't wait to get off the water--he's done with training and just wants to race! Everyone was still buzzing about the previous night's Opening Ceremony ann the pre-march pep talk they got from President Bush.

We walked the course with Joe Jacobi getting his own opinion alloyed as well with the impressions he has gained from many of the competitors who have been training there. It looks to be an extremely tough, demanding course that just might yield some big surprises.

While riding back into the city with Joe I got the message from USOC about the knife attack on the family of our men's volley ball coach. It sent a chill through our whole delegation, but fear quickly turned to sadness as we learned that this random act with no discernable motive had taken a life and left another hanging on. It seems to have been a fact of life in a city of 17 million rather than anything related to the Games at all.   

We awoke to a slow rain in Beijing today. I decided this was an opportunity--perhaps my only one--to see some of the non-Olympic sights of Beijing. I won't waste this valuable(?)space with a description of well-known tourist sights. I will simply say that the Forbidden City is vast beyond all expectation. The scale of everything here is staggering.

The rain first cooled things off a bit, but then just created a steam bath. It's hard to ever feel dry here.

My challenge now is to stay awake until tonight's men's basketball game: the US "Redeem Team" vs China. It's the hottest ticket in town, but doesn't tip off until 10:15!