Beijing Blogs - Jillian Ellis

July 28, 2008

Ni Hao!

After six months of training and traveling the world, we landed in Beijing last Thursday and got our first taste of Olympic fever in the capital. There were Olympic banners, media, volunteers, folks from the USOC (United States Olympic Committee) and curious onlookers all excited by the arrival of one of the first teams to land in Beijing. We got the VIP treatment as we were whisked through the Olympic immigration lane and climbed on a bus to our first stop, Beijing Normal University.

We spent the first couple of days in the city adjusting to the travel and taking in some sights. It is incredibly hot and humid here, and, despite limited traffic volume, there is a constant haze in the city. It was three days before we actually caught glimpse of the sun! The team visited Tiananmen Square and the Forbidden City on Friday and then climbed the Great Wall on Saturday - the hike up the wall was in lieu of a 90-minute training session but certainly just as taxing! As a first timer to Beijing you can't help but be in awe of the vast history of this country. Our tour guide, 'Bruce Almighty', did an excellent job of explaining the traditions, history, and culture of the Chinese people. Bruce also took us by the Olympic Park, the Aquatics center, and the famous 'Bird's Nest' Stadium, the site of the opening ceremonies. The venues for the events here are pretty striking - I think all the athletes will be impressed with their competition sites.

We spent three days at the University as guests of the USOC and then left by train for Qinhuangdao to prepare for our match against Norway. The players and staff are in good spirits and excited to begin the tournament. We will play two games in Qinhuangdao before packing up again and heading to Shenyang. The soccer tournament at the Olympics kicks off two days before opening ceremonies and is held at satellite sites ... meaning, the team doesn't get to march in the ceremonies on August 8. While obviously disappointed to miss out on the big event, the players and staff will be tuning in with the other 2 billion or so viewers!

- Jillian Ellis

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