I am sitting here on the Greek island of Crete, watching the closing ceremonies, and it makes me sad to think that this whole experience, the experience I have been looking forward to my whole life, has come to an end.
From watching past Olympic Games on television, I had an idea of what this might be like, but nothing could have prepared me for the overwhelming feeling of emotions I have felt these last few days since we have won a gold medal. When that medal was placed around my neck and my name was announced, I glanced over at my teammates and family and felt the biggest high of my life to this point in my life. Both my parents had tears in their eyes, and when they played our country's national anthem, I have never felt so proud to be an American.
I have been on cloud nine ever since and have been waiting to come back down to reality; but really all I have to do is close my eyes and I am back in that stadium hand in hand with my teammates, my whole family looking on, and listening to the best song an American athlete could ever hear.
This whole experience has almost been impossible to put into words. I hope that I have at least conveyed to everyone back home how proud I was to have the opportunity to have the greatest moments of my life while in Athens. I can't wait to come home!
Life here in the village has been straight out of a dream. All around me there is so much talent, culture, and just overall inspiration. Most of the inspiration is coming from the other USA athletes. Just hanging around the athlete's lounge, I talked with Paul Hamm on how it felt winning a gold medal for the US in men's gymnastics, after the men had gone so long without ever medaling. Then last night coming out of our chairs rooting for the women's volleyball team with Mardy Fish and Andy Roddick of the men's tennis team. Over lunch yesterday, Maurice Green was trying to convince us that what we should be doing on our day off was to come watch him run.
And the best part is that after every game we have, we are welcomed home by all of these same athletes as they sit cheering us on to win as well. There has been so much support from all of the people back home, but what has completely amazed me is the amount of support all of the athletes here have given each other. That is the purest form of motivation: gold medalists
telling you the fight they gave to get where they did, and the rush of emotions when they got there, track and field athletes telling us about training for hours every day for the last four years for three minutes of competition. And then to know that when their day is done they are glued to
the TV or out at the other events, supporting the rest of the USA athlete family.
Our home is here at the village where we eat together, email together, and root each other on from our community lounge we all hang out at. Sometimes I wish I could just stay here at this Olympic paradise, but I know that within a week we will all be going back to our real home, back in the USA.
August 16, 2004
Wow. What a game. Our first nail-biter in a long time. I don't think I have ever been through so many emotions in my whole life then I went through in today's game against Japan. That is why I am really loving the Olympics. Hearing the support that we had from our fans today was so motivating: chanting "USA" as loud as they possibly could, competing with the pounding
drums and chants from the Japanese fans.
Scoring those runs in the top of the eighth inning had me leaping into the air as I ran to third base (after Jenny Topping's hit). When I reached third, I noticed Coach Candrea was yelling and screaming with joy as well. It took everything I had not to sprint across the field and join in with the team's celebration.
After the game, when we returned to the village, we were welcomed by so many of the other USA athletes that had gotten together to watch us play on TV. I feel like all of us athletes are one big family rooting each other on and supporting one another. Even Andy Roddick was waiting for us when we returned to give us all high fives, and to tell us we had him sitting at the edge of his sit awaiting the outcome of the game. It makes us feel so good to know that we are all here together, representing the same country and playing our hearts out for the sports we love to play.
All the athletes have officially arrived. This place went from a ghost town to hopping with people everywhere. Today was the flag raising ceremony for the United States of America. A bunch of us athletes attended, and as they played our National Anthem, it got me more emotional than all the times I have heard it back in the States. It's something to do with being here, and truly realizing how special I feel to be an American. After the ceremony, I went to the beauty parlor here in the village. Some of the girls have already dyed their hair with bright blonde streaks (JT and Kelly) or all black (Tairia), one of the canoe/kayak guys got a mo-hawk of red, white, and blue. I just got a pedicure from a nice little Greek woman who spoke little English. Our last practices have been very intense, the other teams have arrived and the tension and competitive energy is definitely building for our first game ... I can't wait!!!! Only four more days!!!
This whole experience is truly amazing, and with each day it just gets better and better ..
August 3, 2004
It has been a whirlwind this first week we have landed in Athens. After traveling for over 24 hours straight, it took us a couple of days to get acclimated to the time zone, weather, and overall excitement of finally being here at the Olympic Games.
We were some of the first athletes to check in here at the village, and I never imagined anything like it. As we have seen more and more athletes move in, I get more and more excited about what these Games are all about. Each country has their flag draped across their building, so as we walk around we try to guess what country goes with which flag. During the meals we mingle with athletes from Ghana, Kazakhstan, Brazil and even countries we may not have heard of before (Turkistan).
I am truly realizing what makes these games so special. Just to be able to talk with all of these other athletes from other countries, and hearing how they got here and what they had to do, gives me a real perspective on why this is the biggest sporting event in the world. I don't think I have ever been so excited for anything as much as I am for this right now, and we are still two weeks out from our first game! I am so happy to be here and have this experience, and I hope that everyone back home can just feel a portion of the excitement we are feeling right now as these Games get closer and closer ...