BEFORE in San Francisco
The U.S. team has arrived in Beijing for the 2008 Olympics. The team landed at the amazing new terminal on the afternoon of July 24 at about 2:30 p.m. China time after a smooth 12-hour flight from San Francisco (the pilot maybe asked us to fasten our seat belts once due to turbulence). The team was greeted by a gaggle of volunteers, media and other folks who were bending over backwards to welcome the U.S. team to China. A+ to the USOC for organizing the departure from San Francisco and ditto to the Chinese for the arrival. The players then took a short bus ride to Beijing Normal University, where the USOC has set up its home base during the Olympics, and checked into their rooms before having THE BEST first meal in China EVER. Four stars to the USOC and the culinary American experts they have brought in because that was some good eating. Can you see sauteed veggies with penne, garlic and a red sauce? Yum. And that was just one offering. After dinner, the players had a brief meeting with the USOC staff describing the support here at BNU (it's extensive), which will serve as the HQ for athletes and staff who are not staying in the Olympic Village. The USOC has done a fantastic job setting the place up, even though the U.S. players are among the only athletes here so far (along with the boxers). After the meeting, the players went for a walk and several did some jogging or hit the weight room. The team will only be in Beijing for two and half days before heading to Qinhuangdao, the venue for the first two matches, but tomorrow and the next day will be partially filled with sightseeing. Friday will be the Forbidden City and Saturday it's a trip to the Great Wall of China. The U.S. team has been to China nine times since 1998, but never to Beijing, so the chance to see one of the greatest wonders of the world is unique even for this group of China veterans.