I’m not even supposed to be here today!

16 08 2008

Michael Phelps won his 7th gold medal today, which was no surprise. He was
in 7th place halfway though, which clearly was a huge surprise. It was the
closest finish I have ever seen. But I had no clue how close. I was at the
other end of the pool, so I saw him on the first half of the race, but I
couldn’t see anyone else through the lens. After the turn, I watched over
the lens and saw it was close. His reaction was just awesome. I was in a
good spot for the shot.

I wasn’t even supposed to be at the pool today.

It was andy’s turn for swimming, but something came up, and he ended up
flying to Shanghai with our reporter to shoot women’s soccer and then to
Qingdao to shoot a local girl in the sailing competition.
So I went, knowing that I could only stay for his race, then I had to run
across the way to track and field to get a woman from Iraq in the prelims.

Annette and Steve did a great job with the sports page.

Tonight, I am shooting the men’s 100m final. It’s basically the biggest race
of the games. I was at the track 8 hours before the race to set up a couple
remote cameras.

This one fired before the event, but not during.

Thankfully, this one fired. Especially since the camera in my hand bounced the focus.


Long day, short blog.

15 08 2008

My day.

Up at 7am after 4 hours of sleep
7:40 bus to Main Press Center.

Walk to swimming early to hold position.


10:13 Shoot local girl winning gold medal in 200m breaststroke. Transmit everything on deadline (which still seems strange at 10:30AM)

11:45 run across street to catch the end of gymnastics where US wins gold and silver

Wonder how on earth this girl is that flexible.

2pm Eat lunch
3pm shoot a video

3:50 Get on bus to track cycling

Edit video on the bus

Shoot cycling for about an hour, then catch bus back so I can get to track and field to shoot US shot putters that were supposed to sweep the medals.

They gagged. Only a silver for the US. And not this guy above, who didn’t even get a throw in the playing field. But, he did rip his warmups off before every throw, so that has to count for something…

12:45am go to MPC, grab first food in 9 hours.

12:50, note to self. don’t eat the pizza in China.

Catch 1:20am bus to hotel

Write this blog on blackberry while on the bus.

Be glad I didn’t trip over the hurdle and land in the water pit.

Tomorrow, more swimming, more track, less sleep.

Why do they fold my dirty underwear?

14 08 2008

Finally, after 10 days, I took the “do not disturb” sign off the door. My room was a mess. But I knew where everything was. Dirty clothes on the floor, in the corner. Camera equipment everywhere. The bed above on the left was covered in clothes.

When I got back, that all had changed.

The housekeeping woman picked up all my dirty laundry and folded it. Let me tell you, when I need to do laundry, I planned on getting an EPA cleanup crew to bag my dirty clothes for me. I had no intention of touching that stuff till it was clean again.

Now, my dirty underwear is sitting next to the clean. They both look the same, and there’s only one way to tell the difference.

Sniff test.


Went to judo last night. The backgrounds weren’t any good, but despite not having any idea what was going on, it was a blast.

They made me take my shoes off before shooting the finals on the mat.

Sit or squat?

13 08 2008

Somehow I have made it this long without covering the subject, but the time
has come. My hotel has a normal, American potty. Sit down, get comfortable,
pull out the morning newspaper, normal.

And thank god for the American toilet. Because when people start reading
their news on a laptop on the toilet, my job will be IN the toilet!

Apparently the Chinese don’t read on the toilet. That, or they are acrobats.
The public toilets are essentially a hole in the ground. The good news, you
can still flush them, and sometimes, there’s even toilet paper there!. At the swimming venue, there is a choice in the bathroom.

Sit or squat.

There are a couple of each.

Us Americans have it easy. We don’t have to think about it.

I can’t really wrap my head around it, but I am going to guess bad knees are a factor.

So is your aim.

Suprise medal for men’s gymnastics, then outdoor table tennis

12 08 2008

I started the morning at men’s team gymnastics finals. I was just there to babysit. After losing all the Hamm’s, we had no right winning a medal with a team full of alternates. So, I thought, after they bomb, i’d leave and go shoot something else.

So much for that plan.

USA’s Jonathan Horton (above) clapped his hands after a heck of a high bar routine (not like I’d know.) The team did well on their first 4 events, and at one point, they had the lead. So I had to stay.

It was worth it, there were a few great pictures to make.

Anyway, I am glad I have this blog. None of these photos made it into the paper.

I’ll move on.

This is a happy blog.

After lunch, Politi and I went to find a park that had 20 outdoor table tennis tables. Or is it courts? Who knows, it’s not like I’ve seen anything like it before. There were 8 tables going while we were there. It was pretty cool, and for the first time since we’ve been here, there was sunlight. I actually saw a shadow today!

We showed up with no translator, just hope that someone could help. We were there for 20 minutes, then we saw a reporter and photographer from the NY Times show up.

With a translator.

We can’t win.

On the plus side, it was kinda fun watching Politi ask everyone who walked by if they spoke English. Let’s just say, he had a tough time.

But in the end, he found a kid who happened to work for the US Embassy who spoke Mandarin and English.

He saved our bacon.

Here’s the video we did.


11 08 2008

Today I witnessed one hell of a race. If you own a television, I am sure NBC is ramming the men’s 4×100 relay race down your throat. They have been banking on Phelps winning 8 golds to break the record by Mark Spitz. In order to do that, he needs to win 3 relay golds. A lot of pressure considering he only has control over 1 leg of each relay. He almost lost one today because NJ native Cullen Jones got toasted on the 3rd leg. I’ll bet NBC executives were ready to jump off a bridge after that split.

I got to the pool 2 hours before the race. I went to each photo position to scout out how the relay photo could look. In the end, I shot sitting on the pool deck, about 35m from the finish. There wasn’t a clock in front of me, so I had to turn around to see who was leading. After every leg, I would turn to see where the US was. I did notice that when Cullen dove in, Phelps and Weber-Gale had the US in the lead. When Cullen got out, they were half a body length behind. In swimming terms, that’s like a football field. If you saw the race, you know what happened. Lezak swam a world record split to beat the French, who coincidentally were talking about how they were going to “smash” the US in this race.  From my seat, with 35 meters to go Lezak trailed. But he was popping out of the water on every stroke. I thought they were done. I looked to shoot the team at the finish line. Phelps was rooting Lezak on. Every second you could see Phelps getting more and more excited. The reaction above is pretty crazy. This photo would have looked great in the paper, except it’s missing one key element.

Cullen Jones.

He was sulking in the water after his leg of the race and he took forever to get out of the water.
He came up small, but I guess it’s a lot of pressure knowing you could have cost the greatest swimmer ever a chance at that record.

Cullen’s mother Debra was sitting right behind my photo position. He ran up the bleachers that the photogs sit on and hugged her. The look on her face is pretty awesome.

After the race, we ended up having lunch with NJ native Scott Goldblatt, who won a swimming relay gold in Athens. After leaving swimming, he’s come to the dark side, ours.  It was pretty cool hearing his take on things. He says Phelps winning the 8 golds is a ‘foregone conclusion.’

I have to sign off. Politi is waving a beer in front of me.

I’ll leave you with a cool pic from badminton today. Still can’t believe they’re giving medals for this!

No duck.

10 08 2008

Today Michael Phelps won his first gold medal. I got about 5 hours of sleep last night. I guess I am past the jet lag. Today was the first day that I wasn’t already awake when the alarm went off. I got to swimming for about 8am, then grabbed a quick lunch, went to gymnastics, then back to swimming, then back to gymnastics, now, I’m back at swimming. I am pretty beat. Tomorrow, back to swimming. I need to find me some badminton!

This is what the start/finish photo position looks like. A friend shot the photo of me in the back row. I can only hope he had a little more room than I had!

Politi emailed me after the morning session of swimming. He and a colleague were going out for lunch at a place that specializes in Peking duck. I’ve been dying to get out for some duck. Politi, for some reason (slacker?) doesnt have anything to do for 8 hours before the China/USA basketball game tonight. I needed to go to gymnastics. After giving me crap for actually working here in China, he then sends me a one-word email.


Apparently the duck was good.

I hate him.

But you should read his blog linked above.

It finally rained here, tonight. I think that’s a good thing, since it was about 120% humidity today. I broke a sweat just thinking.

The Main Press Center or MPC as they call it, is starting to stink. The basement, where the cafeteria is, as well as the photographers area, has got this stench lingering that is hard to explain. I think it’s the smell of some sort of chinese condiment. It’s really hard to describe.

But, I am here for you, so i will try.

It reminds me of the way the tunnels of Madison Square Garden smell after the circus was in town. I can only guess that’s the elephant poop. I don’t know why the chinese people would put a condiment that smells like elephant poop on their food.