Keep on Running

To back up a bit from the previous post, I got to see the inside of the incredible Bird’s Nest on 20 August for a session of Athletics. I’ve already described the process of getting to the Olympic Green – it was the same this day as for when I went to Fencing. As we walked from the subway stop to the stadium, we passed by the set used by the Today Show, and since it was almost time for them to start their program (7pm local time, 7am New York time), we decided to skip the beginning of Athletics and watch.

The first thing we saw was a rehearsal of the routine the Hip-Hop Grandmas would be doing on the show.
This is a group of older Chinese women who have achieved internet fame by dancing to American hip-hop music, and being pretty good at it.

Given the chance to be on TV, even in a foreign country, will attract a crowd. Not a very large crowd in this case, but people do like to try to get their kids on TV.

Eventually the stars of the show arrived. Here’s Matt Lauer preparing for his work.
I don’t know if they showed it on NBC, but they have a pretty cool location.
We watched them do the first part of the show, then headed off to the Bird’s Nest.
Our seats were up on the third level, and this is how you get there.
There are a few elevators – somewhere. We didn’t see them. There are no escalators and no ramps, just a long hike up and up and up.

This is what it looked like from our seats.
That’s what you get for ¥200 a ticket (about US$28).

It’s kind of hard to tell at this distance, but the scoreboard on the far end (the only one we could see) displayed only Chinese. The one above and beside us (that we couldn’t see from our angle) showed the English. Seems like it would make sense to alternate the languages on both boards so everyone could read them, but apparently no one thought of that.

Sorry, no exciting action shots for this one. We were much too far away to see any details. The events we saw were Women’s Hammer, several preliminary heats of Men’s 800m and 5000m races, and a bit of Pole Vault way at the far end.
The only event we saw final results for was the Hammer, in which Aksana Miankova of Belarus set a new Olympic Record for the Gold, Yipsi Moreno of Cuba took Silver, and China’s Zhang Wenxiu took the Bronze, which pleased the crowd greatly.

Another highlight was in the first heat of the 5000m. This is a pretty long race, so as the laps went slowly by, most people were paying attention to the hammer throwing going on. But as it progressed one particular runner started catching people’s attention. Not the guy in the lead, but the guy at the very end. He was clearly out of the running, but courageously continued on, even after all the other runners lapped him. He finished more than a minute and a half behind the next best finisher, but got a huge cheer when he did. It wasn’t until after we got home that I looked up the results online and discovered it was Min Thu Soe of Myanmar.

Since there really wasn’t much to see, we left early, missing various other races, to check out the Green at night.
It was a warm night, so the fountains around the Water Cube were popular.
Back over on the Today Show set, they were wrapping up their final hour.
Note that Ann Curry has taken off her shoes. We watched her interview figure skater Michelle Kwan, who was in town as one of President Bush’s representatives for the Closing Ceremony.
By then it was getting kind of late, so we walked to the east exit of the Green and managed to find a taxi after maybe ten minutes. As we hadn’t eaten at all on the grounds, we were starving and headed for dinner.

Pretty much all pictures by D this time.

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