I totally got seven wonderful hours of sleep (which is what I normally get back home) - it was really great - Today is the first post-Phelps (swim) day... In Athens I didn't cover any swimming (except synchro)... so I never realized how crazy the first week could be. I thought the second week was the tough one - but really the first week is the tough one because EVERYONE wants to cover swimming - now there are so many different sports everyone can focus-on that the pack will be thinned out throughout all of the events. The Men's 100m is also done, so every event will get a little bit busier (photographer-wise) but there really is no ONE event left where everyone needs to be. Well except for basketball for US media. I decided to head over to softball around 11 - it's about 45 minutes away to photograph the US versus China. Rode the bus over with Sol Neelman, chatted most of the way.
We have four players on that team that are local. Though I was talking with the reporter from the Denver Post about that several days ago - Benjamin something-or-other - it's funny how papers consider some people "local." For instance - how long does an athlete have to live in an area to be considered local? A year? Two years? Are they "local" if they only lived a couple of years there when they were a little? If they went to college there?
There were a bunch of US photographers at the Fengtai Sports Center Softball Field. As I was shooting USA's Tairia Flowers at-bat from the field level photo spot, she sent a foul ball right at us (see below). I was standing in-between John Biever and Michael Goulding (hey just like yesterday! weird) luckily I had both eyes open because out of the corner of my left eye (I shoot with my right) I see a foul ball coming right at my head. Luckily I have cat like reflexes (ok, like an old cat not a spry one) and the "soft"ball went flying over my head and hit Michael Goulding's lens hood on his 70-200 that was dangling off his shoulder by his waist, he kinda leaned into but luckily it didn't hit anything too precious - because it was about the height that could have made his voice a couple of octaves higher.
The US scored 9 runs in the first inning - we were wondering when that wonderful mercy rule was going to go into effect - they didn't score any more runs but the game was called in the fifth inning! So I packed up and headed back to the MPC to then head to the Olympic Sports Center Stadium - a wacky looking building in a complex that houses water polo and handball.
Handball is way cool. I don't know why it's not more popular - it only lasts about an hour and 15 minutes, it's high scoring and there is a lot of diving and throwing. It was a lot of fun to shoot. As I was sitting there getting ready for the China versus Croatia game Smiley Pool (Houston Chronicle) and Erich Schlegel sauntered in. It's always nice to see a familiar/friendly face. Handball is pretty much exactly like water polo - well obviously not exactly - but water polo with out the water, well it's not polo - you get my drift.
If yesterday was the Paul Kitagaki Day today was the David Eulitt Celebration as we did all three of the same events - though he arrived a bit late at handball... we had a wonderful lunch at McDonalds, mmm double cheeseburger. And then headed off to the Beijing Workers Stadium. The BWS just happens to be about two or three blocks away from the hotel I stayed at when I came out here a year ago to do pre-Olympic stories. It's the Comfort Inn but it's only the top three or four floors of the 16ish story building. The rest is misc. offices, restaurants and a Hyundai dealership in the lobby.
I met a new friend at soccer tonight. Not sure if my new friend is a boy or a girl but it was very nice and kept me company throughout the first half. Didn't have a whole lot to say but he/she was a good listener. The Japanese photographic contingent outnumbered the US photographers probably 3 to 1. Maybe nothing else was going on for Japan but does a country as small as Japan really have that many newspapers/magazines?
Timed the bus great - as soon as the game was over packed up and grabbed the bus which left about five minutes after I got on it - excellent. Rode in the back of the bus with Robert Gauthier and heard about some crazy Iraq stories from when he was there before and after the invasion. Really puts things into perspective... and from the immortal words of David St. Hubbins (This is Spinal Tap - best movie ever made) - say in a thick English accent: "too much f*cking perspective."
Then caught the bus from the MPC to the Northstar Media Village and ran into Robert Hanashiro (USA Today) and we talked about Saving Private Ryan cause it was on the other night and how his dad was somewhere there on D-Day, pretty amazing...