Greeting to all, or as they say here in Beijing, “Ni How” It is exciting to write you again because the past 48 hours have been full of excitement. This feature might seem a little disheveled and the reason is, that’s the reality here. We have been running from training sessions, to meals, to the Great Wall of China, and eventually back to the village. So, bare with me!
The team has been training hard and maintain exceptional focus, in light of all the excitement and activity around the Games. To give us a break, the staff arranged a 24 hour get-away. After training on Wednesday, the group boarded the bus and headed straight for a non-touristy part of the Great Wall of China. I have seen pictures of this structure that some say is one of the Seven Wonders of the World. But, I still had my doubts about it’s enormity.
The bus weaved us up the mountain side before stopping to park. I soon realized that you had two options, take the cable car or climb. I thought for sure that the group would take the cable car, since it was supposed to be a “relaxing retreat.” I don’t know how I under estimated this trip so much, but we of course, started hiking up! It only took about 15 minutes because we are so competitive that we ended up running half the way. When we reached the top, there was not one person not sweating head to toe.
The “Wall” is amazing beyond words! I had a hard time grasping the fact that it was longer then the United States is wide. We stayed for some pictures and to walk to Gate 6 (we reached the top at Gate 8). Gate 6 has a significance too! It was the starting point for the luge course back down the mountain. Of course, every member of the group hopped into a sled and off we went, some faster then others.
The adventure continued as we headed for a town called Leisure City. The small village was full of hot springs, spas, indoor water park, and a few hotels. It looked nice, but the team was only concerned about how quickly we could climb into our beds. We needed to rest up for the water slides in the morning.
Before putting on our bathing suits, most people gathered on the street for the parade of the tour relay. It was not a planned part of the trip, but we got lucky enough to witness the flame passing next to us. It was a very surreal moment to be so close to the torch, the same one that we will see tonight at Opening Ceremonies.
The day wrapped up early and everyone was refreshed and ready to get back to work. Time to prepare for a scrimmage against Korea that evening.
The 50 minute friendly match ended in a 2-2 tie, but the result was not important. Rather, just another sharpening practice to prepare us for the start of our tournament on the 10th.
Until next time….and after the Opening Ceremonies, All the Best!
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Keli Smith Puzo is a two-time Olympic Field Hockey player, Wife to Inako Puzo, head coach at Miami University, Mother of two young boys and your everyday kind of gal trying to keep it all together.