Sunday, August 24, 2008

Soccer and Wrestling

I went to a few more events this week. On Monday night, Sandy called me at 6:15 and said she had an extra ticket to Women's Soccer, USA v. Japan, Semifinals. There was a small group of my friends going and they were decked out in true sports fan style. Face paint, wigs, and American flags. It was pretty great. In fact, it was amazing! We were celebrities. There was a line of Chinese people wanting to take pictures with us outside the venue. They just kept coming. Inside the venue it was even worse. People were climbing over 10 rows to be near us for a photo. This guy in our group (visitor, can't remember his name) was exceptionally excited to accommodate everyone who wanted a picture. Which was everyone.

Look at how many people are taking pictures of us. I assure you, we weren't doing anything particularly special, aside from being American and chanting Meiguo Jia You (Let's go America- Literally: America Add Oil). Oh, we were also drinking lots of beer...

The game itself was incredible. When we arrived, Japan was up 1-0 at 15 minutes into the first half. USA scored shortly after and ended up winning the game 4-2. China and Japan have a pretty fierce rivalry, and not a friendly one. My friends here openly declare their disdain for the Japanese. It's an almost universally held opinion. This fact directly impacted our enjoyment of this game, as literally EVERYONE was cheering for USA. I actually felt a little bad for the Japanese. But, then again, Japan defeating China in the previous match so I'm sure they were looking to the USA to avenge their loss. We did the wave, we cheered, and the crowd interaction was impressive. On multiple occasions, we stood up, turned around and started chanting... everyone joined in right on cue. So cool.

The next night was wrestling, which was particularly interesting to me since i wrestled in High School. I watched the lightweight (55Kg and 60Kg) semis, bronze, and gold metal matches. It was freestyle wrestling with international rules. A little different than what we were used to, but the basic principles are the same. The big story from that night was the 55Kg gold metal match, between a Japenese (here we go again) and an American. The American is Henry Cejudo, and although i hadn't heard of him, the guy i went with still followed the American scene to some degree. This kid went from High School directly to the Olympic training camp. He's in college, but never join the college wrestling team. That's pretty much unheard of. He's only 21 and he's the best in the world. He was also the youngest wrestler in US history to win Gold.

This is just about the luckiest shot I can imagine. I caught the throw below perfectly. Not only was it the most spectacular move of the night (12 matches total), but it was the only time I was actually watching the action through my camera. Which is about the only way to catch a shot like this.

Anyway, Henry won and was appropriately ecstatic. We also got to watch the medal ceremony with the Star Spangled Banner played. Really cool. I couldn't ask for a better scenario.

More to come. I'm a little behind on my posts, but with the Olympics ending, I should catch up soon.


1 comment:

Piper said...

There was a writeup on this guy in the NYT: