Stephanie Wheeler Blog - Shaking Off the Jitters

Nov. 12, 2008, 9:32 p.m. (ET)

Wow, it has been a while since I have had time to sit down and take time to write a blog.  Actually, I haven't written since before we left on our adventure in Beijing.  So, I guess this blog will be devoted to filling you all in on my experience in Beijing!  Hmmm....where to begin!  What an amazing opportunity and challenge my team had before us.  We were defending Paralympic champions and were one of the favorites coming into the competition.  That's alot of pressure to live up to, but my teammates and I felt none of that.  We were all pumped to play and to finally be in Beijing where we could finally show what our team was made of on a world stage!  I guess it was the beginning of the end of our long year and a half journey together.  So we finally arrive in Beijing after months and months and for some of us, years of anticipation.  We settled into our home for the next 2.5 weeks in the village and set off to explore where we were living. The village was amazing...trees, flowers, ponds, a small river, benches, almost anything you can imagine that's in a beautiful park was part of the landscaping.  The first week or so we were in Beijing was devoted to practicing and getting acclimated to the time change and the conditions in Beijing.  We practiced at many different universities in Beijing and also in the 2 competition gyms that we played in.  We also got to spend a day sightseeing in Beijing.  We visited Tiananmen Square, the Forbidden City, and the Silk Market.  I bought some beautiful pearls and definitely had one of the most unique experiences of my life while shopping at the Silk Market!!  Finally...finally, opening ceremonies rolled around.  What an amazing extravaganza!!!  I have never been a part of something so impressive!  The performers were incredible and the concept was mind blowing!  Then, the moment that we had all been waiting for was finally upon us...the lighting of the torch.  Once that flame was lit, the games were officially open and we could finally begin our journey to gold!  We couldn't wait for our first game and when the day finally arrived, it presented us with our first big challenge on our road to gold.  Our competition was divided into pools, and in our pool was Germany, Australia, Great Britian, and Brazil.   We played the Germans first, who were also a gold medal contender.  It was a great game, with both teams playing well.  We came out on top and our journey had begun officially.  The first game of the Paralympics is always the hardest.  Some people get the jitters, some get really excited and some are very calm.  I'm glad that we had one of our most difficult games first because we got those jitters out of the way in a tough fought game.

To find out what happened during the rest of the tournament, stay tuned....more results later!!!