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One World, One Dream, One Couple from HK Reporting (part 1)

August 16, 2008

2008 Beijing Summer Olympics


Another story in the saga of a most unexpected year for Thiebeses Hong Kong: an all expenses paid trip to the Beijing Olympic Games.  We love adidas!  As it turns out, we were traveling with 2 other lucky winners and their wives/girlfriends.  Newlyweds Christoph and Ulla just moved from Germany to Hong Kong (and by just, I mean that Ulla had flown in from Europe the day before we left for Beijing, but as you’ll see from photos, she’s one of those irritating people who looks gorgeous no matter how jet-lagged), and then Chris and Grace joined us from adidas Korea. 


Adidas met us at the airport and whisked us to the hotel, courtesy of a private mini-van.  We were greeted by a welcome package that included a backpack, 2 shirts, binoculars, a ticket frame, a taxi guide to Beijing, and a hat, all conspicuously marked with the adidas logo (even the binoculars).  Our first taste of Olympic competition was that evening: 6 swimming events.


It’s taking me awhile to sort through all the (300+) photos, so I’m posting in segments.  More about sightseeing and the final event (volleyball) in the next installment.


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The Events




First of all, the Water Cube is magnificent–photos later.  Inside we made our way to 2nd level, front row seats.  Since it was the first day of competition and no medals were on the line, the place was definitely not full, but the crowd made up for it by being alternately excited (mostly US fans), excitable (mostly Chinese fans), and obnoxious (all Australian fans—and Aussie readers, you know I love you!).  There also appeared to be a pretty good British contingent.  The very first event was heats of the men’s 400 individual medley, which American media billed as one of Michael Phelps’s more formidable challenges.  As you’ll see in the photos, he didn’t have too much trouble. 


[Side note and potential future question of the week: by the last leg of the IM, freestyle, Phelps was so far ahead that Dave and I couldn’t help wondering—how close would he have to be to the finish so that if one of us took over for him, we could still win?]


We also saw Katie Hoff compete in the women’s 400 IM.  Some of the events dragged a bit—I think it was the men’s 100 breaststroke that had no less than 9 heats—but the night finished with an exciting relay, women’s 4×100 freestyle, and overall we felt just awed at being there. 


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The next day was the event about which we were most dubious—badminton.  Now don’t get me wrong: going into this experience, I firmly believed that ANY Olympic competition would be inherently cool, but still…badminton?  Suffice to say we couldn’t have been more pleasantly surprised.  The matches were fast-paced and athletic, and the crowd was fantastic, especially since China tends to dominate the sport. 


We saw women’s singles and doubles.  We all preferred doubles, just because it’s even more frenetic than singles, but notably in the one-on-one segment we watched the number 1 ranked player in the world, Xie Xingfang, a Chinese woman who looks so much taller than her officially listed height of 5’8” that I couldn’t help wondering if China goes to the opposite extreme as the US when it comes to listing stats.  Usually in the States, heights for an athlete—especially a guy—seem quite generous, right?  But if Xie is only 5’8”, then the Pope’s not Catholic. 


Xie is dating the number 1 men’s player in the world, and as I type, she’s playing for the gold medal.  She is pure athlete.  In fact, a small but insistent part of me feels like her ability is somewhat wasted in badminton.  I mean, imagine her on the tennis court!  Or playing basketball!  No offense, and as I implied, I have a whole new appreciation for badminton, but I can’t resist the thought of her speed, reflexes and agility translated to a more universally-recognized sport.


Anyway, enjoy these first photos, and rest assured that, like it or not, more are on the way.


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5 Comments leave one →
  1. Sarah Doyle permalink
    August 17, 2008 3:06 am

    Wow! You even got to see Badminton! Fly shuttlecock, fly! I’m so jealous!

  2. Tara permalink
    August 18, 2008 3:22 am

    Did you forget to stalk the athletes? I’m a little disappointed. 😉

  3. Catey permalink
    August 19, 2008 11:01 am

    The pictures are great! Can’t wait to see and hear more. Are we really into the 2nd week? Have you seem any of the Equestrian events in HK? I saw the Americans win team jumping (I think) after a “jump-off” against Canada.

  4. Becky (Ptld) permalink
    August 22, 2008 12:40 pm

    Dang… you guys are SO lucky. Sounds like you had a fabulous time. MISS YOU!!!

  5. erica permalink
    August 22, 2008 12:51 pm

    kelly and i were making fun of you for quoting hamlet when talking about sarcasm….like everyone would get that reference….

    who doesn’t love a good band aid?

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