Friday, September 22, 2000

Debbie's Journal - September 2000

It seems to be getting more and more difficult keeping this web siteup-to-date. We're back in Sydney for the Olympics and Tony has been busy sending back columns to Freeonline every 1-2 days.

I've been trying since Tuesday to find some time to rearrange this site to fit in some photos of the Olympics and take copies of Tony's columns. They are only on the Freeonline site until the next one goes up and there are no back copies.

Coming back to Sydney

It's a funny feeling coming back to Sydney. Before I left Melbourne, I was saying I was coming home. When we got here I realised we don't have a home here anymore. So I'm not sure what Sydney is. One nice thing, it's warm ... the first thing I noticed when I stepped off the plane. Not sure if I'm ever going to get used to the Melbourne winter. Just as we were leaving, Spring was starting in Melbourne and the scent of flowers was everywhere. We were starting to get some really nice days. Apparently Sydney is abnormally hot for this time of year. I've had to go shopping because I didn't pack much for this warmer weather. It was 28 degrees Celsius out at the baseball and softball the other day.

The Opening Ceremony

Considering that the Opening Ceremony was in lieu of our annual trip, it was pretty disappointing. We were lucky with the seating (we thought) - near the stage and the cauldron, only 2 rows from the track. But we had a camera and its operator in front of us all night. As long as the camera was high we were generally OK. Some of the action at ground level was lost to us though. Worst of all, we had a couple of hundred members of the marching band in front of us for the duration of the Athlete's parade. Unfortunately my photo of the camera crew and the back of the marching band did not turn out. Tony's did - just need to scan it in.

The atmosphere though was great. In the pre-ceremony entertainment we had John Williams singing Waltzing Matilda. It's amazing to hear 10,000 people singing along. And there was the Mexican wave that started about 5 minutes before the Opening Ceremony. Think we got about 4-5 times around the Stadium, and the VIPs got booed when they stopped after two rounds.

We did get a great view of the stage and the lighting of the Olympic flame. I actually thought I wouldn't have too much problems from the second row, but when everyone stood up I still couldn't see. I have a classic photo of Debbie Flintoff-King handing over the flame to Cathy Freeman framed by the shoulders of two people in the first row. It's why I choose to use the digital camera instead of Tony's SLR. A 200mm zoom is not going to be any use to me if I can't see past the person in front. At least Tony can look over people's heads.

Baseball and Softball

This week we have been to the Baseball, Softball and Badminton. Tonight we are heading off to the Table Tennis. The Baseball and Softball were out at the Blacktown Olympic Centre at Rooty Hill. Baseball was on Tuesday night, softball Wednesday morning. It took us 2.5 hours to travel out to the site from where we are staying. When we booked the tickets -and were living at Toongabbie - we envisaged about a one hour trip : 20-30 minutes from Toongabbie station to Blacktown station, change to another train, travel for another 10 minutes or so, and then a 20 minute walk to the site. It probably would have been quicker if we drove. Then Tony has to go and get a job in Melbourne!

At the baseball (US vs Netherlands) - the Australian 3rd base umpire got more cheers than the teams. There were cheers throughout, not for the U.S. or the Netherlands, but when the Aussies won the 4x200m relay in the swimming.

After the baseball, we arrived back at Tony's parents about 1:00am and were up around 6:00am the same day to make the trip back out for the softball.

We had great seats at the softball - 3rd row from the front, behind home plate on the third base line. We saw 2 games, New Zealand vs Cuba, and Australia vs Japan.

In the first softball game, again the Australian 3rd base umpire got more cheers than the team, but there was plenty of support for New Zealand. Unfortunately the Aussies lost the second game we saw - although it was very frustrating, nil all until the tie-breaking innings when Japan scored 1 run.

Badminton

The Badminton was great - especially the doubles matches. It's a very fast game - although it took me a while to work out the rules. I used to play socially but couldn't remember the rules at all. The women's singles semi-final basically had the top 4 seeds. 1st and 2nd seeds will be playing in the Gold medal match, and the 3rd and 4th in the Bronze medal match. What I didn't realise was that Badminton is quite popular in the European countries - the women's 2nd seed is Danish.

We also saw the Bronze medal match for the mixed doubles between Great Britain and Denmark, and the Gold medal match between China and Indonesia. The Bronze medal match was long and there were some great rallies - the British won the bronze. However, the China vs Indonesia match seemed to be a lot faster and more physical with lots of twisting around to get at the shuttlecock and running and jumping. I thought the Chinese were beaten (they were the 7th seeds playing against the 1st) especially when they lost the first game 15-1. However, they won the next 2 games in an amazing comeback.

I never realised how long it takes to set up the medal ceremony. On TV, you go off and look at another sport and then you return for the medal ceremony.

As we were leaving, Simon Archer, the bronze medalist from Great Britain was just outside greeting his family. As Tony said, it's the closest we are ever going to get to a bronze medal!

To come

We've taken quite a few photos of the Games - digital and ‘traditional’. We need to sort through the digitals, scan in the traditionals and then crop, recolour etc. Next release we'll have some of these photos up on the site.

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