Day Four: Sunday, Sunday

This morning, I experienced my first Beijing rain (it lasted about 15 minutes and no, it did not clear up the air) and spent several hours watching women’s gymnastics. Check out my story. Plus, few observations …

* The Chinese gymnasts are too small. One girl’s bio lists her at 68 pounds; the average weight of the six-“woman” team is 77 pounds. (That’s 13 pounds lighter than our teeny tiny, 4’9″ Shawn Johnson.)

* The Chinese are equal-opportunity applauders. Sure, the decibels increase when their girls are on the floor, but they are extremely gracious fans. And very knowledgeable of the sport.

* I spoke with Bella Karolyi for a while before the U.S. team took the floor, and again after the event. The man is a quote factory. He was fired up about the age limit, wants it revoked and wanted the world to know. He agrees the Chinese women are too small. Because, he says, they are not 16. Read my interview with him here.

* Shawn Johnson peforms what, in my opinion, is the best beam routine of all time. And she was robbed in team qualification. Still, she qualified for the all-around in first place and teammate Nastia Liukin qualified in second. I can’t wait for Wednesday.

* The U.S. team has more heart and personality than any squad here in Beijing. They are such fun to interview, and even more fun to watch compete.

*There is no free wireless internet connection in any of the Olympic venues. I find this absurd.

* Dominique Dawes is working here as a journalist and, watching and listening to her in the Mix Zone (where the athletes and media “mix” for interviews), she is doing a damn fine job.

*George W. and Barbara Bush were seated in the Water Cube for Phelps first gold-medal peformance. During the medal ceremony, the American National Anthem cut out halfway through the song. Mechanical mishap? Anyone who saw Opening Ceremonies Friday night would have a hard time believing the folks putting on this show can’t work a CD player.

*Bush spent the past two days bouncing between venues, posing with beach volleyball players and giving interviews to the sports media. He can not go home soon enough. (He leaves Monday). We are judged by that man and his actions, and I’ve never felt that as much as I do with him trapsing around this international event. It’s nauseating to think about.

This evening, I experienced my first thunder-and-lightning storm in Beijing. It lasted much longer than 15 minutes and, hey, it did clear up the air a bit.

Despite the rain, we trekked to Beijing’s 789 art district to watch the USA-China basketball game at the Nike house. I decided it would be more fun to watch with lots of friends than by myself in media row (okay, surrounded by hundereds of members of the international press) at the venue. I was right. I’ll definitely get to some games, though. My goal is to attend each Beijing venue (several are hours away from here) at least once. And right now, I’ve been inside only the Bird’s Nest (opening ceremonies) and the Indoor Stadium (gymnastics). Time to broaden my horizons.

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