I never realized that experiencing the Olympics from Beijing would do so much to heighten my patriotism while simultaneously increasing my admiration of some sports that might not be as appreciated in the U.S.
While millions of Americans were glued to the TV screens watching Michael Phelps, between China’s CCTV and the Filipino satellite, I’ve seen a lot of badminton, ping pong, weightlifting, and shooting.
But there’s really nothing like seeing the competitions in person, crowding into the venues, and feeling the excitement. Here are some of the highlights:
Sport I Never Thought I’d be Really Excited to See: Men’s Speedwalking
These guys were absolutely amazing. It’s definitely not one of the strongest sports for the U.S., but it was thrilling to see the competitors enter the bird’s nest, walking much faster than most of us will ever run.
Most Fun Venue: Beach Volleyball
Events in the Olympic Green have been getting all of the attention, but the beach volleyball court, located in Beijing’s Chaoyang Park, is the place to be.
When China plays, fans cheer for just about every single point, and are helped out by the multinational bikini babes who dance around during various breaks. Who knew that hey-ho-let’s go, translates so nicely into a Chinese hey-ho-jia you?
I definitely wouldn’t want to be playing against the Chinese crowd, but it was great to be part of it.
Favorite Race: U.S. Crew Winning Women’s 8
As a former college rower, I definitely have a soft spot in my heart for crew, and watching the U.S. take the gold was one of those rare lifetime moments I won’t soon forget.
With the crowd of Americans surrounding me chanting U-S-A as the girls victoriously crossed the finish line, I felt my own small taste of Olympic victory.
There’s almost another week to go, and the games are still going strong. It doesn’t look like much will tarnish China’s golden glow right now, but the Olympics are always full of surprises.