BLOGGING ON THROUGH THE SUN -- ATHENS | Heat is relative, and like many relatives, doesn't have to be liked. But even though the temperatures have been reaching the mid-90s here, it's really not that brutal. You walk, you sweat. It's a fact of life that most Southern Europeans simply accept, like a relative overstaying their welcome. For a person who doesn't relish heat, I think it's worse back in Pennsylvania during a heat wave because the humidity is so dense. When I was in Arizona, and even Aruba, the sun was baking hot. The sun in Athens hasn't approached that status yet, but some of the locals have told me this is a mild summer so far (note to Lois: if you want to come here, plan it for January).
Last night could not have been more draining. After sitting in the sun all day long to watch the U.S. win three medals in the cycling time trial, we were told the post-ride interviews needed to be cut short and that we should head back to the Main Press Center for a 9 p.m. press conference. O.K., except that it was 7:20 p.m., and it took more than two hours by media transport to get back to the MPC.
Dipping into my bottomless expense account, which is rapidly reaching a bottom by the way (HINT TO THE PEOPLE BACK IN THE OFFICE: GET THE CASH WITHDRAWAL LIMIT RAISED), I made it back to the MPC just minutes short of 9 p.m., dropped my gear off Somebody was actually surprised that I carry about 20 pounds of gear in my backpack and headed for the interview room where ta da no one was there. I stopped in the U.S. Olympic Committee officer, and they told me the interview with gold medal-winner Tyler Hamilton, silver medal-winner Dede Demet and bronze medal-winner Bobby Julich was bumped to 15 minutes later.
Fifteen minutes later, it was bumped to 15 minutes later. It started sounded like a delayed airline flight that had an equipment problem. Round about 10:30, the media conference got underway. Julich walked in with a cast on his wrist. He said he broke it in the third stage for the Tour de France this year and refused to cast it, but promised his doctor he would after the Olympics, and he stayed true to his word. Everybody clamored for Hamilton and the story of his dog, Tugboat, who died at the beginning of the Tour de France. He still carries Tugboat's dog collar tags with him when he races: "They gave me wings today for sure," he said.
By the time I got done filing stories from here, it was midnight, and I was beat, so I headed back to the hotel via the bus, another 35-minute ride, and proceeded to crash for the evening.
Today was the last day before my storm. The velodrome starts tomorrow (Friday), so I'll be stationed there through Wednesday before switching over to the wrestling at Ano Liossia Hall.
Somebody and I walked the streets of the shopping areas near Syntagma Square today trying to get a story on how the local businesses are doing with the lack of people turning up at venues. Only 884 showed up for a baseball game in Helliniko. Patriots Park had at least twice that for the Greek softball team, which got crushed by the U.S. team 7-0.
Two things I'd like to do before I leave here: Get a real tour of the ancient sites and swim in the Aegean [Note to self: Self: tour the ancient sites with a guide and swim in the damn Aegean already].
Things I am missing: Kissing Marissa and Jared good night when they are asleep (my 14-year-old daughter and 9-year-old son), my dog Emma and our walks together, and my wife Lois (I need a hug!).
Things I'm not missing: Mowing the grass, taking out the garbage, cleaning up toys. The Flames!
Things I haven't started yet that I can't wait to begin: Helping to coach a great group of Under-10 soccer players and watching them get better.