World Championships: Day One
Beijing, China: Happy Birthday to
The Lovely Lisa! (Aren't we just the worst parents? We would never think of
missing Lucy's birthday... but Lisa's? Hey, we did get her a vacuum cleaner.
Isn't that just so exciting?) Happy Birthday to the Best Daughter Ever!
We both slept well overnight, so maybe are adjusted to the local time
zone. Maybe. (The temperature and high humidity
in Beijing this week are not helping.) We went down to the (included with our
room price) hotel breakfast buffet and were happy to find a wide variety of fresh Asian or Western foods. They even had
sushi and a coffee bar.
Beijing National Stadium at 9a today - beautiful clear sunny skies!
Let the Games Begin! Today begins the nine-day Championships in Athletics and we
were over to the famed Bird Nest Stadium first thing to watch Duck alum, Brianne
Theisen-Eaton, compete for Canada in the heptathlon. Actually,
ten current or past Ducks are competing (8 for the US and 2 for Canada) at
the World Championships.
Just a quick walk from our hotel, the National Stadium is quite an imposing
site - and it is illuminated at night in bright colors. Spectacular. And
huge. So huge it is hard to really grasp.
The view from the IAAF hospitality area.
The metal "tree" sculpture is for the opening ceremonies.
We discovered our seats were in full sun, so decided to stay
in the IAAF hospitality (shaded) area to watch Brianne in the 100m hurdles.
She was in the final heat and ran her fastest time ever - 12.98 seconds. Today
first time Theisen-Eaton broke 13 seconds.
Lane 2: She may run for Canada, but BTE is always a Duck to me.
(PS: lovin' my new teeny camera)
The next event in the heptathlon is the high jump. Brianne is a
great high jumper, but today was only able to clear 1.80m (which is
still dang-near six feet, y'all). She finished 14th in the high jump and is sitting in
5th place overall after two events.
The men's marathon - which wove through the streets of Beijing this morning -
finished in the stadium. The men came onto the track through a tunnel under the
stadium and needed only sprint 100m down the straight-away to finish... except
no one thought to put up a tape for the winner to break.
The winner (Ghirmay Ghebreslassie, of Eritria) had no idea where to finish, and without a
tape to break through, assumed he needed to run another lap (as is quite common
for marathons that finish in a stadium). It wasn't until
he was another 100m past the finish line that an official flagged Ghebreslassie down. Poor organization and very sad that a man won a 26+ mile
race and wasn't even rewarded with a tape to break at the finish line. Betcha betcha betcha this will be reorganized before the finish of the
women's marathon? By the way, Mr. Ghebreslassie is the first-ever gold medal
winner for his entire country and the youngest (at 19) man or woman
to win a WC marathon! Due to the high heat/humidity, the winning time,
2:12:28, wasn't a very fast. At the World Championships, you don't need to
be fast. You need to be first.
Prize money is awarded from first through eighth place for every final
event. First place takes home $60,000 (US dollars). If an athlete sets a new world record,
they receive a $100,000 bonus.
Qualifying rounds this morning also included men's hammer throw,
steeplechase, 800m and women's shot put and 1500m. More exciting qualifying
rounds this evening - and the men's 10000m final... and the Opening
We took advantage of a several-hour break in the action to return to our air
conditioned hotel room for a rest.
It was requested by the IAAF that their members and guests
arrive to the stadium this evening via shuttle bus. We are not sure exactly why,
but we think it has something to do why the government wanted the passport
information of every foreigner in National Stadium this evening: Chinese
President Xi Jinping would be attending the Opening Ceremony. We had to go
through security screening (my bag was Xrayed and we were scanned with a
wand and patted-down) before boarding a bus to the Bird Nest. Once we
arrived and left the bus, we were escorted to the entrance gate, then put
through another security check-point before heading to our seats.
Here is my interpretation of the Opening Ceremonies in pictures/captions:
Yellow arrows, left to right: Retiring IAAF President Lamine Diack, Chinese
President Xi Jinping... and His Serene Highness, Prince Albert of Monaco. You
may recall seeing Prince Albert in a lot of photos I post from track meets.
He is a huge track fan - especially the pole vault.
The Prince is a huge
supporter of The One True Sport.
First, large groups of balloons gathered on the backstretch. They resembled
clouds. Or cotton candy. Or cauliflower. Please note the silver "tree"
sculpture in the background.
Then the crowd sat through the "Parade of Flags" - one for every country
participating in the games.
After the flags were presented, IAAF President Diack gave a welcoming
speech. This will be his last. His term has ended. Lord Sebastian Coe (Great
Britain) was elected IAFF President last week and will assume the role
Then the President of China officially declared the game open and the metal
sculpture began to turn green - from the base of the trunk to the tips of
the branches - and green leaves opened! Very cool.
Suddenly, hundreds of green (leaves?) things appeared, carrying a (cloud?)
bunch of balloons into the middle of the infield.
A beautiful girl in a white flowing gown rose from the center of the green
leaves. She was carrying a sphere (globe?) and began singing a song of
happiness and welcoming. The words were translated into English and French
on the stadium video boards and it was clear this Girl in White wanted peace
throughout the land, to write on white paper and to be with her friends and
run, run, run.
Except she wasn't singing at all. It was a choir (in green) and an orchestra
and professional singers in the seating area behind the tree sculpture.
Friends from around the world came to run with the girl on a track that
mysteriously appeared on the infield. The green leaves morphed into a hedge
lining the track.
The friends ran around China. First stop was the Great Wall.
Next, a pagoda rose from the grass...
... and the Lady in White rose from the pagoda, soared above the clouds and
The green leaves suddenly bloomed into hundreds of red roses!
It was an amazing sight to see.
The flowers spelled-out BEIJING and the clouds formed into "2015"
And the Opening Ceremonies were over. It was pretty spectacular, and I
didn't even mention the fireworks.
Back to the Track: After four events, Brianne Theisen-Eaton
sits in 4th place in the heptathlon, six points away from third and quite a
bit behind first. (There is a link to full results at the bottom of this
page.) Fans love the men's 100m and the heats were fast tonight. We wached
Usain Bolt, Tyson Gay, Justin Gatlin, Asafa Powell, Travon Bromell and Mike
Rogers move up to the next round. Something tells me this is going to be
The men's 10000m final was a fairly quick-paced event.
Oregon Duck alum, Galen Rupp, finished fifth. His training partner, Mo Farah
of Great Britain, won the race. Three Kenyans were between them.
Another great day of Track & Field. We walked back to our hotel and fell
into our beds - exhausted.
National Stadium, at night
Something I found interesting today:
There is a notice on the faucet in our bathroom warning
to not drink the water. Next to the sign are two
Pedometer: 11,043 steps, 4.89 miles.
You may also like:
Full daily results from the Championships
Follow me on
instagram (I'm posting daily)
Until my next update, I remain, your Day One correspondent.
Sign Up is NOT required! Anyone may comment. Sign
up only if you would like to add an avatar, or if you wish to be emailed when someone responds to your comment.
(Sign-up will take you to my safe and secure comment server, Shadow-Pnyxe.)