Bubba's Olympic experience: Opening ceremonies
Aug. 8, 2008
Hey Longhorn fans,
A lot has been going on since I last checked in. After spending time in Beijing checking out all the facilities and making sure everything was set, I went down to Dalian, where we are having our training camp. I worked with the relays for two days. After our trip to Europe and the training sessions here, I think we are ready to go.
As for Dalian, it is a beautiful place and the people there are really excited to have the U.S. team training there. It is a modern city of almost seven million people. The landscaping is incredible and the architecture is really neat. The athletes have been staying in a five-star conference center with first-class accommodations, as it should be for the world's greatest track and field team.
I flew back from Dalian to Beijing for the opening ceremonies. I know it will be airing in the U.S. this evening so everyone should make sure to watch it. I can't explain it, but it was like nothing I've ever seen and probably will ever see again.
The first thing that happened that really stood out was the opportunity to meet President Bush and his dad. The entire American contingent got to meet with the Presidents and some other dignitaries, so that was a special moment. President Bush told me he was looking forward to coming back to Austin in six months.
We started to organize for our march into the stadium at about 5:15. Everyone was in white slacks, blue blazers and white golf caps. You could really feel the excitement building for everyone involved. When the flag got to the front of the tunnel, we were all chanting U.S.A. and there was a roar from the crowd. We were announced and you knew it was something different than you had ever been involved in before. It made the hair on the back of my neck stand up.
We entered the stadium at about 9:30 to a huge ovation. It was electric. The stadium holds about 92,000 people, but there were probably about 110,000 in there. There was a tremendous amount of pride as we circled the stadium. It was overwhelming. You could see the flags in the stands and it was just a great feeling. It made you want to be the best you can be for all the people supporting you. I could see it on all the athlete's faces.
The Athlete's Oath and the Official's Oath were really cool and seeing the Olympic Flag and the torch being lit is something I'm sure none of us will ever forget. The fireworks were truly amazing, but my favorite part was watching how the Chinese greeted and acknowledged the U.S. athletes. They all wanted pictures and autographs. It was awesome.
Another great thing was having Trey (Hardee) and Leo (Manzano) there with me. They got to meet the Presidents and Leo got his picture taken with them. He was getting his picture taken with everyone. He got one with Kobe (Bryant) and (Jason) Kidd. You name them, he was getting his picture taken with them. And Trey had two three-hour batteries for his camera and he nearly used them up before we even got in the stadium.
The whole event was truly amazing. Hollywood couldn't have done it any better. I've said it before but I get the feeling this is going to be a special event and if this night was any indication, we are right on track.
Now, we'll turn our attention to competing. I know the athletes can't wait to get going and I'm looking forward to seeing how the U.S. contingent performs.
I'll check in soon.