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Day 18: Closing Ceremonies

Last night was the last night of Club Bud, our favorite hangout here in Beijing. Today is the last day of the Olympics. Writing both of these sentences makes me a bit sad. This has been quite an experience, to say the least. And a large part of me is sad it is ending. A small part of me can’t wait to get home and have a slice of NYC pizza.

Today, I attended my final event, the men’s indoor volleyball gold-medal match. It was perhaps the most emotional sporting event I’ve watched in person. Two weeks ago, U.S. coach Hugh McCutcheon’s father- and mother-in-law were stabbed in a random act of violence here in Beijing. Todd Bachman was killed; his wife, Barbara was seriously injured. Coach McCutcheon left the team to be with his family, but returned after the third game. When he did, his team members told him they would win one for him. Few people believed that was possible. The U.S. hadn’t won gold since 1988. The team they faced in the finals, Brazil, has dominated the sport for a decade. But the U.S. team went undefeated and today, finished their improbably gold-medal run.

Afterward, the players wrapped themselves in American flags, hugged, celebrated and cried. It was hard for anyone in that stadium not to get caught up in the emotion. In the mix zone, members of the media wiped away tears as they asked questions and listened to the players’ heartfelt responses. It was a perfect end to these Olympic Games. And it reminded everyone, including me, why we all love sports.

COACH MCCUTCHEON AND LLOY BALL EMBRACING AFTER THEIR WIN …

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THE MEDAL CEREMONY …

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