Joan Powell's Olympic Journal for Aug. 16

Aug. 16, 2008, 9:16 p.m. (ET)

Aug. 16, 2008

And a barn burner it was!!! A five-set victory over China in China with Lang Ping, a former Chinese heroine, now the USA female coach at the helm and in front of a full house with the Presidens of China and IOC along with Rueben Acosta from the FIVB - it doesn’t get any better than that.

Prior to the grand finale, the team had a morning meeting and training, preparing for China’s serving tendencies and their specific rotations. I, of course, cannot start my day without a bike problem. Danielle Scott-Arruda’s peddle fell off once again so it was back on the BNU bus. I stopped at the dorm and locked it up for Wes in their storage area and walked to the gym to be with the team.

Following practice we were able to grab a quick lunch at BNU; the food is really scrumptious there. Back to the Village to get ready for our evening match. I received a call from Wes and Danielle’s bike was on the 2 p.m. bus. It was 2:20 and I hustled out with my fanny pack in hand. I got to the arrival/departure area for the BNU bus just as the bike was unloaded – yelled at the USOC guy to bring it to me because I discovered that I had not taken my credentials. No worries, I had not been out of the Village, so I should be okay – NOT! I walked the bike through the area I entered and was stopped. “But I haven’t left the village,” I pleaded. “Very sorry, very sorry,” I was told.

Everyday we return from BNU, we have to go through screening, then produce our credentials at another check point by placing the credential on an upright scanner – the green light goes on and we are free to enter the Village. Okay so I was panicked. A Chinese English speaking girl, Cindy, came forward to say that I needed to call someone from my team to retrieve my credential from my room and bring it to the area. Oh no you don’t – I am not disturbing anyone on their off time. I pulled out my keys and said, “How can they get them if I have the keys?” “Please wait a minute for my boss.” A minute? I sat in detention for 30 minutes, while everyone was radioing for help.

If you don’t think security isn’t tight here . . . I even joked, pointed to the USAV ball on my practice T-shirt and said, “Lang Ping – Ping Lang.” The security staff on duty - (“the friendlies” as our field liaison agents refer to the young staff members) giggled, but I could see that I was only able to use that name to exchange my towel, not to get me out of this predicament. I had to show my license to a gal who radioed it in spelling my name “C-O-L-O-R-A-D-O.” I stopped her on the second O. Told her that actually Powell was my name and she began to relay that information to her supervisor.

Again, I was told that someone from my team had to verify that I was with their delegation. Finally a plain closed gentleman appeared, with a radio, spoke to a few of the workers, made a call and said I could go. It seems he called the USOC and asked if a “Elizabeth Powell” was a member of the US group – they called Sue Woodstra and she said they have a Joan Powell. Anyway, I was off on Danielle’s bike; the seat was too high, so it was a precarious ride home to the dorms.

In time to shower and get tickets from Logan, Nicole and Robyn for family and friends. Oh yeah, I couldn’t wait to stand outside for this match, looking for some Americans that I have never met. I gave them my phone number told everyone to tell them that I would have my purple umbrella that was one of the gifts given to us the day we arrived.

I was so excited to see Ni with Robyn’s husband and son Jordan. Handed a security person the tickets as I did not want to breach security again, even though I had my credentials this time – would have had to go through security again and the lines were two and three deep all the way down the block. Logan’s friends had called to say that they were stuck in traffic, but were on their way. Even had my phone number, I could not call them back on my USOC issued phone – an unidentified number, according to the recording.

Finally Logan’s friend called and I was able to get them their tickets. Now one more set left – Nicole’s friends. (I heard later that they had gone to the wrong venue and were really late.) I had to leave my post as I waited for them for an hour and had to get inside and get the players’ credentials and medical forms to the jury and get the banner and pins to our team. I was able to give the tickets to Gen Kawakita who had to start our camera and then was able to go outside. I was done with my pre-match duties and took the tickets back from Gen and ventured outside once more. The crowd had dissipated as match time grew nearer; the teams were beginning their warm up.

On my way out I shared my frustration with two men whom we met last week; they are doing a sanctioned documentary on volleyball; they have involved our women’s team by interviewing many of them. They are great guys. They asked if they could help; I told them that I could do it.

Once outside, I spoke to Nicole’s friend; she said she was at the site and looking for me. I told her where I was located. I am not sure where they were, but I was becoming more and more frustrated, because I was right next to the security tents, but they were unable to locate me. Finally I received a call and it was the documentary guys – they said they would turn on their camera light. Bingo, I sighted them and they me and the tickets were handed over. YIKES!!

I got into my seat next to Diane and had missed the first 6 or so points. I also missed Robyn’s son’s sign – “Go Mom” as the teams march in I was able to get a picture later, however. The crowd was roaring and participated in the wave on numerous occasions. The fans were really into the match.

I saw Glenn Sapp in the stands; he is beach referee from Denver. He took a picture of me and I took one of him, but we were unable to get together as he had to keep his distance as an official for the Games. How great for him to be apart of the Olympics as a referee.

Following this great victory, I listened to the press conference with much curiosity. Lindsey Berg spoke for our team; she presented herself and our team humbly just like her coach. Bergie was questioned about the Bachman situation; Lindsey answered in an emotional manner that they had played for Wiz and her family.

The Chinese co-captain was asked what it was like to play in front of such a crowd, in front of the legend, Lang Ping and in front of the president of their country. She said that they knew the 1.2 billion Chinese people support them and that later in the match they noticed the President and was encouraged by him. The co-captain said of Lang Ping that she was a role model and that she has made improvements to the USA team.

“Jenny” Lang Ping downplayed the match and her feelings. She spoke about this match not being as important as many thought; it was a preliminary match. She said that she had to concentrate and not get emotionally involved in the fact that it was against China and in her hometown. I was really impressed with the way she handled herself in front of the media who was eager for a story. Jenny remained low key and added that she and her team had to now focus on the next match.

I cannot imagine what it was like for her to coach in this situation, but I certainly was proud of her demeanor and how collected she was in front of the media and even more proud of the way our women performed under pressure.

And how about our men? They also beat China with their coach on the bench. Good for them and good for Hugh!

Next stop, Poland . . .