Aztec right-hander Stephen Strasburg reports from Beijing where he is with the U.S. Olympic team as the lone collegiate player on the squad. Strasburg will shares his thoughts and experiences over the next two weeks as he goes for the gold in China.
Friday, August 8
Tuesday the 5th was an extremely long day as we got an early start on the rip to Beijing. We finished our final exhibition game against Canada Monday night and returned to the hotel at around midnight. I decided to stay awake the rest of the night because we had to board a bus at 4:30am that drove us to Dulles International Airport 4 hours away. We left the airport at around noon and arrived in Beijing at around 2pm local time the next day after a 13-hour flight.
When we landed, we were welcomed by a couple hundred fans and media and then rushed off to the Olympic village. The village was like a small city with everything you could ever need. The dining tent was unbelievable with food from all areas of the world and a McDonalds right in the middle. Now that I've caught up on some much needed sleep we are preparing to play China tonight in an exhibition game.
The opening ceremonies are very hard to describe because there was so much going on at the same time. We started off by gathering in the Fencing stadium for a meet and greet with the president. Then we were taken by bus to another stadium where we waited to be called to walk into the Birds Nest. After 2 hours and 140 nations we were called and we walked down the dark tunnel to the 95,000 fans awaiting our introduction. It was the most amazing feeling walking in front of that many people beside some of the greatest US athletes. Once we finished our lap, we stood in the center and watched the remainder of the ceremonies, including the raising of the Olympic flag and the lighting of the torch. This day is definitely one I will cherish and remember for the rest of my life.
Saturday, August 9
Today we had a late practice so I was able to go to the silk market with a couple teammates. It was packed with vendors of everything you could imagine from souvenirs and electronics to tailored suits and sport equipment. It was really fun bargaining with them for items because none of the shops had set prices. We competed to see who could get the lowest prices from them. After that we took a 45-minute cab ride to a badminton competition. I was shocked to see the large arena was packed with fans for badminton?! We returned to the village two hrs later on the scariest cab ride I ve ever been on. It was pouring monsoon-like rains as we were weaving in and out of traffic without caution. Thankfully we survived.
Monday, August 11
Today we had a scrimmage scheduled against China and the president was attending. I introduced to myself to him and we exchanged some small talk. We gave him an autographed jersey, ball and hat and then he threw out the first pitch. We ended up playing for 3 hours and then returned to the village. It was an incredible feeling meeting the leader of our great nation.
Friday, August 14
I pitched today against the Netherlands. It went very well and I think I finally know what it feels like to have that Olympic fever. Its difficult to explain but its like the feeling of starting friday night against USD Times Ten! We got rained on a couple times and after some delays didn't leave the field until 5 pm. After that I went with some buddies to the USA House where they had free food, massages, and plasmas showing the events. The USA House was a great place to relax and chat with other athletes while making it feel like I was at home.
Saturday, August 15
After the heart breaker against Cuba, we bounced back really well today against Canada. After the game I was able to meet up with my mom and we went out to dinner at the Bank of America house. There they gave us free tickets to beach volleyball and basketball for tomorrow so that should be pretty neat. Also, believe it or not today was actually the first day where the sky was actually blue.