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August 1, 2008 – Leaving for Beijing

TIME: 2052hrs

It’s been a long day! I finally made it to Beijing, China after about what felt like a bajillion hour trip. The day started out in San Jose, CA at 0700hrs. The bus left San Jose State University at 0715hrs for the San Francisco International Airport. It took about an hour bus ride due to morning rush hour traffic. (which wasn’t that bad). Once we got to the airport, we entered through a special entrance which allowed us to bypass all lines to check in for our flight. It was pretty interesting. Once we got off the bus and checked in for our flight, we were escorted through security. I almost missed my entry wave because my parents had come to see me off at the airport. So I waited and eventually got through after saying my good-byes to my parents. Once through security, we had just enough time to grab a little bite to eat and get a few snacks and last minute things for the flight, such as "trashy" magazines.

Before getting on the plane, I randomly ran into Domi and Deirdra Fitzpatrick from Sacramento’s KCRA Channel 3 news. And Domi remembered me from about 2 months ago when he did my interview for the news. So they decided to do a little filming of the Judo team. They interviewed me a little and snapped a few pictures of everyone, along with other athletes from other sports. … (They are my new best friends 😉 haha! So keep your eyes out for their updates on KCRA news … I might be on there again. ) On the same flight as us there were: Gymnastics, Wrestling, (some) Track & Field, Sailors, and probably a few more other sports. There weren’t a whole lot of us, but enough to be noticed.

The flight from San Francisco to Beijing took a little over 12 hours. During the plane ride Sayaka, Valerie Gotay and I played travel scrabble! … I lost of course. Val actually took the game on the 2nd to last round of play before going out. Other than that, we entertained ourselves by reading "trashy" magazines with the latest gossip, chatted in the back of the plane or simply slept. I was able to get a seat next to my usual travel buddy, Sayaka. Michael Eldred and Marti Malloy were able to get seats together so they weren’t too lonely.

Once we landed, we went through immigration. There were special lines for all the Olympic Teams …. which made the process a little quicker, but not by much. After making it through, the Olympians had to get their credentials validated. Then we went on to pick up our bags which seemed to take forever and a day. After that we were split up …Team members went to the Olympic Village and Olympic Hopefuls went to Beijing Normal University. The media were going insane when we arrived. It was such a trip… I was too slow to whip out my camera to catch it on tape. But I snapped a few pictures. The air is actually nothing like what I was expecting. If I didn’t now about the smog problem, I wouldn’t have thought of anything. It was actually beautiful. Beijing is NOTHING like what I expected. As of so far, it’s beautiful. I haven’t ventured out of the university but so far so good.

After we got to Beijing Normal University, which USOC rented out for USA athletes to train at and the Olympic Hopefuls from all sports to stay at, we got out rooms and went through orientation and then went to eat. And let me tell you, this food here is gourmet! It’s delicious. I’ll post a few pictures later, It’s getting late and I’m too tired to fuss with everything at the moment. After dinner the 7 of us (Me, Marti, Kayla, Jeremy Liggett, Michael Eldred, Garry St Leger, and Bobby Lee) went down stairs to the athletes lounge where there’s movies, Wii, Janga, Yazee, Chess, etc. We played rock band for about 30 minutes before having to head upstairs for a little team meeting.

It’s actually 2118hrs now … and I’m getting really sleepy. So I’m going to hit the hay. I’ll post pictures tomorrow when I have more time. We have judo practice from 10-12 and then we have the rest of the day off. But so far the trip is fun… a little bittersweet because the 7 of us aren’t there as competitors. We ALL want to fight so bad, and it’s depressing to be in the atmosphere without being a part of it. BUT! We are definitely thankful to be able to experience the atmosphere. In the end, It WILL be worth it.