Aug. 4, 2008
The weather has turned, and we've had beautiful sunny days. Almost every member of our group has commented on seeing the blue sky - so maybe the emergency pollution measures are having an effect!
Yesterday we went to the Dragon's Head on our day off. About a 20 minute ride from our hotel, the Dragon's Head is the eastern most part of the Great Wall and was built during the Ming Dynasty. The concrete wall that juts out into the ocean resembles a dragon's head, and thus the 3,500 miles of wall that criss-cross China is thought to be its tail. We wandered around for about an hour and then gathered down by the water to just hang out, enjoy the sun, and eat ice cream cones and popsicles. We needed this day!
Today we went to train at the stadium we will play our first game in. It is normal in our sport to be allowed one light training session on the game field. The stadium was very impressive, and they are expecting a sell-out of 32,000 for the Olympic matches here in Qinhuangdao.
Training outside in this weather is extremely demanding. Our players weigh in before and after practice to gauge how much water weight they have lost. This is done for safety reasons so they can replenish what they have lost. To give you some idea of the heat and the work rate of our players, some of them are losing between 4-5 lbs. a practice! The closer we get to match day (Aug 6) the more we start to taper our practices. Today was fairly light, and some of our focus was on set pieces and finishing. Tomorrow we will be just taking free kicks and knocking a ball around to stretch our legs.