As previously mentioned we did not have a place to sleep the night of Opening Ceremonies and so when we checked into our hostel (which from here on out will be referred to as the room that mold built) we only had time to shower and change before we needed to head out for the day.
I can't express how much Beijing has changed in the year since I've been here, and even since I was last in Beijing at the beginning of July. The city was much cleaner and everyone seemed to have their welcome mat out for the Games.
Anyway, onto the Games. Our first event of the Olympics was beach volleyball. The venue was pretty small (especially compared to most of the other venues) and was relatively empty considering the Games were boasted as being the first ever to sell-out. But these factors certainly did not stop us from having fun.
The sun was shining, the music was blaring and we were cheering loud even though the U.S. wasn't playing. We talked to some other folks from the states and Germany who we would eventually hang out with several times later in the week.
Beach volleyball was really fun and much more intense than I had expected.
Jenna and I sat with Jon, Tim and Tony (our gang for the next two weeks) for about four hours before we realized we weren't going to make it through the rest of the day, yet alone the rest of the Olympics, if we didn't get some sleep. We made our way back to the hostel and napped for about two hours before it was time to roll out again.
That evening we had tickets to the men's gymnastics preliminaries and, once again, America wasn't competing. We had a good time watching the Games in general, but of course we wanted to cheer for the U.S. At any rate I was super excited to be at gymnastics, because it is always my favorite sport during the Olympics.
As you may or may not know I met Shawn Johnson during my junior year at Drake when I was working for The Times-Delphic. She was only 14 at the time and we ran a story in the Relays issue about her that my friend Jennifer wrote, I tagged along to take the photos. She's from Des Moines and her gym is only a few miles from campus so we got to watch her warm up with the other girls at her gym one day and meet with her and her coach. It was a pretty cool experience and one that I kept bragging about as soon as she made the U.S. team. I was hoping to get to see her compete while we were in Beijing but once I picked up our tickets for the week, which I had ordered more than a year in advance, I realized that just wasn't part of the plan. I made seeing Shawn compete my personal goal for the week.
Back to the events of the evening. Thankfully Jenna and I were wide awake after our two hour naps and decided to celebrate this with a beer as we watched the incredibly buff men frolic around the National Indoor Stadium. The guys were not in such high spirits since they stayed at beach volleyball and didn't have a nap. They ended up leaving halfway through gymnastics to go back to the hostel.
The gymnasts were incredible and a good indication of what we were going to get to see throughout the coming days.
After the event was over Jenna and I were pretty high on the excitement of being at the Olympics and so we decided to walk around for a while, see the grounds and chat before heading back to the hostel. Here are some shots of the green that first night.
We finally got back to the room that mold built at around 1 a.m. and immediately crashed.