Ali Wood's Olympic Report - Aug. 15, 2008
The beach volleyball schedule is a challenging one for any country that has more than one team. We have 4, the max allowed. Only Germany and Brazil have the same amount of teams and more staff than we do. One of the drawbacks of being from a country that has the largest delegation besides host country China, (592 athletes) is that there are fewer accreditations to go around all of the sports. For 8 athletes we have two team leaders, four coaches, a chiropractor, a physical therapist, a video scouting specialist and an MD who we share with indoor. Many countries have assistant coaches, multiple video staff, and a massage therapist. Still, coordinating 18 people's movements and transport is not an easy task! Not sure if I could handle too many more.
Competition started on the 9th and goes until the 23rd...pretty much the entire Olympics... with the athletes playing one match every other day. This is quite different than what they are used to, as AVP and FIVB has them playing everyday, often 3 or 4 matches. As you can imagine, this alters their entire training schedule. It also makes for some very long days for the staff since the first match is at 9 am and the last at 10 pm. Last night we had a meeting that started at midnight, then Misty and Kerri played at 9 am today, so sleep is a luxury.
Since we are now staying outside of the Village, we have been eating at the Hilton, the venue, and the UCOC High Performance Center at Beijing Normal University. This is my 7th trip to China, and usually I get a bit sick and come back 10lbs lighter...not this time! The food everywhere has been awesome. A blend of Chinese and western with fresh ingredients and lots of variety. I have not seen a single eel or chicken with the head still on it, though I will need a trip to El Gringo for some carnitas tacos when I get home.
Our teams all ended up on opposite sides of the bracket, which means that they will not meet up with each other until the medal matches. Of course there is stiff competition to get there. Nic and Ey will have to knock off the two very physical China teams. Misty and Kerri have both Brazils in their bracket, so a slightly easier route to gold, but by no means a cake walk.
As for the guys, Jake and Rosie will have their work cut out with both Brazils in their bracket. Todd and Phil will need to knock off a very steady Dutch team and crowd favorites China's Wu-Xu aka "Tiny," who puts up the second biggest block on the beach, next to Phil. The next few days should be very exciting!
Right now I am at the women's indoor match. China vs. USA. It is 1-1 and the crowd of about 15,000 is going nuts! We had to wade through throngs of people to get inside. What a great experience to see how popular women's sports are in China! Heather Bown is blocking up a storm, so hopefully our girls can rally behind her. Go USA!!!