A boy checks in from Beijing
I have no idea what time it is there, I don’t really have any idea what time it is here, as a matter of fact. But I do know Captain Byers has the filing system worked out like a champ, My Boy Starkman had Tsing Tao in the fridge of the condo unit and Perk got in no problem so the Three Mouseketeers are settled in the home.
So a fine Ni Hao to you.
Wildly uneventful trip over, a mere 13 hours in the air and a few minutes to get through the festivities at the Beijing Airport. I can report that The Bank Job’s the best contemporary movie available on Air Canada flights, Leatherheads is very, very hokey and 88 Minutes is a pretty good Al Pacino vehicle.
And if you’re taking that flight and have to sit in steerage, 18B’s the seat to have.
Oh, right, the Games. They start Friday, unless you’re a women’s soccer beat grunt because then you have to wend your way to Tianjin tomorrow (or maybe the day after, or maybe today, depending on where you’re reading this) and I’m hearing the best way to get there is by train.
That should be an adventure in travel.
Also heard Amber Adams, who had suffered a serious knee injury months ago and was the hardest roster decision coach Evan Pellerud had to make (or so he told us on a conference call to announce the team) is hurt again and won’t be able to play.
How much does that suck? And how impressed are you that I’ve got up-to-the-minute women’s football news?
So, the airport. Gorgeous. Puts Pearson to shame, in the way it’s designed and the way it operates.
No dopes running lines who don’t know how to run lines, huge luggage carousels, easy signage, the whole shooting match.
GTAA folks gotta get over here and get some pointers.
Speaking of the airport, one of the first familiar faces was a hoops beat grunt from Chicago who somehow finagled his way into an upgrade on the flight over and boasted for minutes how he was sitting in the same cabin on the flight as Rafael Nadal and if there’s ever a mismatch, it’s a sportswriter and Raffa.
Of course, I had to one-up my boy. He may have sat in the same luxury as Nadal on the way over, but I got to follow him out of the airport and you haven’t seen anything until you’ve seen a couple dozen crazed reporters and 50 or so fans trying to get interviews and autographs in a moving line.
Was all well and good until the guy who raced down the up escalator to get a picture of Nadal fell down amid the crush. I’m sure he got stepped on and trounced, I was headed for some fresh air.
Right, air. Well, aside from feeling like the world’s biggest thunderstorm is going to hit in about six seconds, and aside from the fact you can maybe see a kilometre, the air’s just fine, thank you very much.
Now, here’s some news! The Chicken’s here! Yup, your Chicken. The Chicken. Spreading her/its/his own unique brand of entertainment at the Olympic basketball tournament as part of the NBA’s globalization initiative – I’m pretty sure the Chinese basketball league has never seen anything quite like an NBA mascot – the Raptors are going to be represented by more than Bosh, Roko and Jose in the next couple of weeks.
I have no idea if I’ll get to see much of him, but I sure hope so.
Okay, let’s say we’re sitting around and someone says, ‘Hey, Doug, what was the first Olympics you did? Got any good stories?’
Whoo, boy, do I. Sit down, kids, for Installment No. 1 of Tales From Past Games.
Barcelona, ’92. Day 1, Boy Reporter of The People’s Wire Service, who wanted to do a little boxing and some basketball, gets assigned to do shooting ‘cause you never know when some Canadian might win some medal in some shooting discipline nobody really knows anything about.
Grumbling, ‘cause I’m missing the fights with a handful of Canuck colleagues, I ride a bus to, like, France, to watch some guy whose name I’ve long forgotten finish about 36th. Story yields a line of agate, at best, in the What Canada Did segment in the back of your section.
I amble back on some empty bus, hit the lounge to meet the Canucks only to find out that while I was watching that nameless dude finish 36th or something – and it might not have been that good – three other Canadians at the boxing had been talking to Nelson Mandela.
Yup. That Nelson Mandela. ’92 was South Africa’s return to the Olympics, Mandela had been a boxer in his youth and was out watching one of his athletes compete.
Me? Never covered shooting since.
Oh, look, an Olympics-related mailbag query:
Q: Hey Doug, is Giorgos Printezis playing for Greece in the Olympics? Is he playing a big role? Do we still have his rights?
Andrew R, Toronto
A: Nope, he’s not here, I presume he’s back in Greece watching, maybe cheering. So his role is non-existent and, yes, Toronto still holds his rights but, no, he won’t be at training camp. He’s at least a year, maybe more, away from even being considered
I’ll tell ya, this press centre is all right. Huge. Lots of space to work, banks and restaurants and bars and places to hang out. I’m sure the good folks of China will be paying for these extravagances forever but, frankly, I don’t care.
The volunteers can’t do enough to help you – I had like three guys fighting over who’d help me push a cart of bags to my room – and if things keep going like this, this is going to rival the best Games I’ve been at.
Of course, I could just be loopy, it seems like I’ve been up for more than 24 hours – wait, I have been up for more than 24 hours – and I’ve still got a women’s soccer advance to write.
That’s the fun part about being over here, deadlines. Women’s soccer game is Wednesday night here, Wednesday early morning there and the story setting it up has to be in Tuesday’s paper because by the time people read Wednesday’s paper, they will have already played.
If I can keep that all straight without my head blowing off, I’ll have had a successful games. Now, though, it’s off to find some food, perchance a cocktail and do some more writing. Be back in the ‘morrow.