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August 20, 2008 – My last day here..

Is today.

They say time flies when you’re having fun and I guess thats true because I leave to go home tomorrow morning.

These past few days have been jammed packed with activities including multiple trips to the silk market where we had to deal with haggling salesladies trying to sell you knockoff goods. That place hardens you. The first day we went there it was way too crowded, it was almost claustrophobic. The second time we went there it was much less crowded and enjoyable. We spent almost all day there, not wanting to eat to take time away from valuable shopping.

We also have been to quite a few events. Ronda, Val and I have been to track and field to watch the women’s 100m finals, to diving, weightlifting and last night we saw the USA men’s basketball team trounce on Australia by 30 points. The coolest by far was the track and field, since we were able to see the bird’s nest from the stands. It was packed with 91,000 people. Pretty crazy.

Today our plans were to go to the Great Wall, and we left this to the last minute, which might not have been the best idea. We woke up this morning and it is pouring here. Apparently, the storm is supposed to last just for today, which is just oh so convenient since its my last day here. Maybe we’ll go to the Forbidden City instead. We have to make it back by 7pm to watch our roommate dive in the finals of the 10m platform.

Its surreal that this whole Olympic experience will be done in a day. Yesterday Val and I were walking and talking about how just a few months ago we didn’t know if we were even going to be here. Bejing seemed like a foreign concept and now our time here is almost over.

People will ask me, what was your experience? What was it like?

I don’t think it can be put into words. Being an athlete here at the Games is amazing. Yesterday we went to an ambassor dinner and I ate dinner with Michelle Kwan sitting next to me. You get to meet and see people who are heroes and celebrities. You get to put faces to names and see what kind of people they are. You become one of those heroes.

Being here has inspired me. Before I came, my dad said that this experience will change me life, and I think thats really true. The experience I have had is one that only a select few will ever have. Add that to the Games being held here in Beijing and the number gets even smaller.

Most inspiring are the sports events. Watching the pure emotion of people in the thrill of victory and the agony of defeat is indescribable. It inspires you to work harder and to want to achieve more. It reminds you why you worked so hard to get to where you are today.

Now that I’m going home, I can apply what I’ve learned and seen here to my normal life. When I get home it will be a new chapter in my book of life, but I will never forget this experience.

Thank you again to everyone who helped me get to where I am today.