Jason is blogging on China Journal hosted by WSJ.
This afternoon marks the first day of racing for small boats singles, pairs, and fours. American medal hopeful Michelle Guerette just raced and came in an impressive second in her heat in the women’s single. Our men’s pair, the Winklevoss twins, will descend on the lake and be as symmetric as ever in their battle to advance to the medal final next Saturday. They are identical twins in every sense. One blinks, the other blinks. They drive the same car, like the same food, and share the same dance moves. For months guys on the team couldn’t figure out who was who. The men’s four heat’s gonna be a barn burner. Racing will be more physically taxing than usual because of the relentless heat.
Staying hydrated while training and racing is essential to maintaining top performance and avoiding heat stroke. Under current conditions, redlining it (going full speed!) can lead to heat stroke quickly if you’re not hydrated and well-nourished. To avoid becoming sick from contaminants, we only drink bottled water. Lots of it. A small sign in our bathroom says ‘don’t drink water’. Even to brush our teeth we don’t use the tap. Regarding a comment on fluoridation posted by a reader earlier this week: The question called to mind an impassioned delivery in the Kubrick film, Dr. Strangelove, by USAF General Jack Ripper (Sterling Hayden) to RAF Group Captain Mandrake (Peter Sellers) concerning ice cream, children, and Communist subversion. The tap water in China was fluoridated, General Ripper, from 1964 to 1983.To understand the effects of jetlag on the body, we follow the general rule of one day per hour of time difference. For us, there’s a 12-hour difference from Princeton to Beijing. Yesterday, 8.8.08, was day 12 and therefore we should be fully acclimated to China time. Interestingly, despite its wide land mass, China has only one time zone.
The Opening Ceremony was remarkable! The fireworks, choreography, stunts, and Chinese cultural presentations were fantastic! Though only three coaches represented rowing at the event, the rest of us watched the official start of the Games from our hotel dining hall. While waiting to walk into the stadium, Coaches Matt Madigan, Charlie Butt, and the venerable Ted A. Nash were privileged to speak with two American Presidents and the First Lady.
This year seemed more athlete-centered than some other opening events. Athletes were staged in an adjacent arena and then led into the Bird’s Nest. Roughly 91,000 people hollered for more than two and a half hours in support of this year’s competitors. According to friends on the Canadian teams, the massive delegation of US athletes received a spirited ovation by the ceremony’s crowd. We were not permitted to attend the ceremony in Athens, and last night’s spectacular event was, regrettably, out of our reach. I wanted to be there more than anything. We train thousands of hours in an esoteric sport: no big contracts, no endorsements, just thousands of hours of practice and sweat. We endure one of the most mentally and physically demanding sports under the sun with the Olympics being the ultimate destination. The thought of walking into the Opening Ceremony with the world’s finest athletes will always motivate me to train harder and for more years. I dreamt of this back in 1995 when I made my first US team. The magnitude of this opening event is commensurate with the crushing disappointment of not being able to participate (again). London 2012 is within reach.