Spectacular comes up short in describing the Opening Ceremony on Friday night.
I remember television coverage from past Olympics and how the broadcasters always treat it so enthusiastically and reverently. I had the honor of sitting between two very lofty journalists who shall remain nameless who should have been doing commentary on the event for the Comedy Channel.
Of course, it also provided a night when my photographer Frank and I didn't leave the Main Press Center until 3 a.m., more than an hour after the buses stopped running. And seven miles isn't a distance anyone wants to walk that late at night on unknown streets in Athens.
So Frank and I hailed cab and joined a Japanese gentleman on a strange ride home where the cabbie knew few words in English, but managed to discuss soccer, soccer players, politics, sight-seeing and offered tips on not-so-nice opening lines when meeting Greek women.
Today was one big mess-up. We planned for the men's road race, a seven-hour marathon. I checked out the start/finish area on my morning walk. The area is only about 1.6 miles from our hotel, so I went back, showered, and left with my computer to set up shop at the site. Then Frank called while I was walking and told me the women were racing, not the men. Panicked, I jogged the rest of the way to site, soaking wet from the high heat and exercise. The guards and volunteers spoke less English than anyone at the MPC, so none of them knew which race, just bi-see-KUL race. After a few more frenzied phone calls back and forth, I found a site official who assured me the preparations were for the men's road race and that the women's would be Sunday.
The press bleachers sit in the blazing sun, and the organizers have loaned us umbrellas to shield ourselves in what is blistering heat at the moment. There is a press center in a building in the back, and I may check that out later.
I did manage to get in touch with Jed, who sounded pretty cheery and ready for his individual foil competition on Monday. I'm trying to get in contact with a Danish official so that I can interview Moravian College graduate Christina Scherwin, who was an NCAA Division III national champion in the javelin. The Danish Committee doesn't have a press office in the MPC, so I'm about to start canvassing every Scandanavian I meet to make contact.
Morning Call Sports Reporter Gary Blockus is on assignment in Athens, Greece for the 2004 Summer Olympics. Gary will be providing updated reports from the Games as well as the various sights and sounds from Athens.
Late nights and confusing days...
AUG. 14 (AND FEELING BLAH-ED) -- |