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Beijing Blogs

Jillian Ellis

August 21, 2008

Heading Home!

An unbelievable final capped an unbelievable Olympics! We beat Brazil last night in overtime to win the gold in front of 55,000 at Beijing Workers' Stadium. It was an amazing game and had two heavy-weights slugging it out through 120 minutes of soccer. It was the best team defensive effort I have seen, and our goalkeeper Hope Solo was spectacular.

Lauren Cheney did a tremendous job in the biggest game of her life. She worked tirelessly up front and was rewarded by helping create the game-winner in OT. I am so proud of her and all of her teammates!

Only when the Stars and Stripes was going up the flag pole did I really believe we had pulled it off. Brazil looked stunned, and I am just amazed at how resilient our backline was at repelling Brazil's attack. It was one of the most exciting games I have ever been a part of.

After the game, we went to the USOC USA house to join up with family and friends. It was a late night, and I am going to sleep the whole way back to LA.

I want to take a moment and thank my assistants, BJ and Shannon, for running pre-season in my absence. They have been incredibly supportive, and I would not have been able to take this journey without them. I am excited to be rejoining my team and ready to focus on the Bruins!

- Jillian Ellis


Jillian Ellis

August 19, 2008

On to the final!

We beat Japan last night in the semifinal, 4-2, to advance to the gold medal game. It was an electric atmosphere in Beijing's Workers' Stadium with almost 50,000 fans on hand. After rallying from a goal down, the crowd got behind us, and chants of "USA, USA" echoed through the stands. We played very well against a tough opponent, and Lauren Cheney came in again late to provide a spark. I was so happy for the players. This team has endured a lot with key players getting injured along the way. It really has been a complete team effort to get to this point.

We got back to the village late and actually got to sleep in this morning. The players have the day to connect with their families and go and watch some of the other sporting events. The men's semifinal (Brazil vs. Argentina) in soccer is tonight, so we are trying to get our work done early so we can go and watch. The staff is going to meet up with the scouts this afternoon and go through their report from the other semifinal. Brazil beat Germany, 4-1, so we will meet on Thursday evening for the Olympic final.

- Jillian Ellis


Natalie Golda

August 19, 2008

Going for the Gold

I know, it sounds great! We beat the Australians tonight in order to advance to the gold medal match against the Netherlands. The Dutch were victorious over the Hungarians and will be a great opponent in the last game. It is such a great feeling, knowing that regardless of the outcome we will be standing on the podium with medals around our necks. Obviously, we're going for the top of the podium - one last victory and an opportunity to sing our national anthem. It is also great to have a sense of accomplishment with your training and preparation - we weren't wasting our time.

My family was ecstatic - Eric, Zack (younger brother) and Mary (Zack's friend) all painted their faces with the stars and stripes. I had blue and red paint all over my face. My mother was crying, and my father was proud. I've been getting a ton of e-mails from friends and relatives telling me how proud they are of our team.

I also had a friend from high school, Reyna Hernandez, drop by the stadium. I couldn't miss her. She was yelling "Golda!!! Golda!!!" before the game began, and afterward, she jumped on me and was so excited that I had to peel her off me. She told me, "I'm coming to EVERY Olympics you're playing in!!!"

Another cool story - I didn't want to post it yesterday, call me superstitious. Moriah van Norman was in the dining hall yesterday eating with Lauren Wenger when a man approached her and said, "You have done or are about to do something great." Moriah responded with, "Wow, we are in the semifinals tomorrow." The man nodded, smiled and left. Moriah noticed that the man was from Oman, which sounds like omen, and she told the entire team her story last night. I told her I would write about her in my blog, so make sure you tell her that you read her story.

- Natalie Golda


Jillian Ellis

August 18, 2008

Olympic Village

The village is impressive! The beautiful landscaping and design is the perfect backdrop to the array of people walking around in all their colorful warm-ups. So many nationalities, languages, and sports are represented in the village. Hanging from the balconies of the apartment buildings are the flags of all the countries represented - on the long walk to the dining hall we try and guess which country. The village is pretty close to the "Bird's Nest" stadium and the "Cube", so it has been fun to see those two venues up close.

Daily, there are over 16,000 people in the village. It is pretty spread out and easily takes 20 minutes to get from one side to the other. The building we are housed in is about 15 minutes from the dining hall, bus depot, and swimming pool. More and more athletes are buying bikes to get around. Our apartments are likes suites, and they are pretty small to house seven people. As much as I like being in the village, it has been since college since I shared a room with two other people- so a LONG time!

I have seen two Bruins since I arrived in Beijing. I ran into our track coach Jeanette Bolden yesterday and water polo Olympian, Brandon Brooks. It was great to see them both, and we caught up on our team's schedules. Brandon has a big game today against Germany, so if it fits into our crazy pre-game schedule, I am going to try to go and cheer him on!

We play Japan at 9pm tonight at the Worker's Stadium. We played them in our qualifying round, and they were a formidable opponent- very technical and extremely quick. This game decides if we play for a gold medal against the winner of the Germany/Brazil game on Thursday, so naturally we are all excited for the game to kick off. It is a late game, so we will spend the day relaxing and have lunch and a video meeting over at Beijing Normal University.

- Jillian Ellis


Jessica Cosby

August 16, 2008

Today I did get out for a little bit. My roommate and I went to the silk market and did a little shopping for a few hours. It was pretty fun. The market is a building that is the same as an indoor swap meet except here you negotiate prices. I bought a few things and I will probably go back sometime at the end of my trip.

Tomorrow is my qualifying round and I am excited. Training has been good and I feel prepared. I don't really know what else to say at this point because for the most part my time is spent hanging out in my room or the lounge area watching the events on tv.

- Jessica Cosby


Nicolette Teo

August 16, 2008

It has been two whole days since I concluded my competitive outing at the Beijing Olympics and I still am unsure of what happened. My performances at these Olympics did not remotely go the way I thought they would. On the night after my 200 breast, I could not fall asleep until 6:00 am in the morning even though I was physically and emotionally spent. I just lay in bed and could not stop thinking. That is my greatest weakness - over analyzing and over thinking everything! I constantly struggle with switching off my mind and just going with the flow. Needless to say, I have been doing a lot of thinking in the past two days.

I know some may think I am being overly dramatic by saying that I am totally heartbroken over my swims, but one would have to understand where I am coming from. When you have spent the past year putting your heart, soul and absolutely everything you have into your preparation, failing to attain your goals is devastating. I can honestly say that I have never been more prepared for any meet in my entire swimming career, nor have I trained as hard or as well as I have in the past year. Going into these Games I knew I had done everything I could to put myself in a position to swim fast. The people who surrounded me and have watched me train for these Olympics were constantly telling me that it was my time to shine. Furthermore, I knew I was going to swim fast because of all the work I had done. It may sound cocky, almost foolish in fact considering the outcome, to say I knew but I had faith in my preparation.

Unfortunately, things did not work out the way I planned. My 100 breast swim really shook me to my core and I don't think I really recovered mentally and emotionally in time for my 200 breast. It would be easy to blame my 100 breast swim on my cap and suit malfunctions but it was so much more than that. I think I wanted to swim fast so badly that I over-swam the race and started spinning. I could list 100 more things that I would change but such things would bore and/or confuse you if you don't understand swimming and more importantly, I am not trying to justify nor come up with excuses for my performances.

Instead, I will share what I think is my biggest lesson. Before Beijing, I was focused solely on swimming and that was it. It was all I had. In addition, I equated my entire self worth to my success in the pool. You would think I would have figured it out by now that what makes me special is not how I perform in the pool but is measured by the people who I love and who love me. They are the ones that make me worthwhile. They are the ones that make me extraordinary. My biggest obstacle is to really buy into this fact and to realize that my whole life worth is not based on this Olympic performance, that I am so much more than that.

Right now, I am at the point in my career where I am done with college swimming, (therefore, once I graduate, my scholarship from UCLA will be terminated) and I do not know if I will be able to get the support and funding from Singapore that I need to continue swimming. I hate the thought that money could be the reason I retire but it is a fact of life. However, right now the main thing on my mind is do I want to keep swimming?

I have been swimming competitively for 15 years of my life and while the thought of having time to do whatever I desire excites me, I am also deathly afraid. What will I do without swimming? Who will I be? On the other hand, there is the fact that I am still so, so in love with swimming and everything it has to offer. That love, coupled with a burning vengeance to show everyone (and myself) that I can compete at the level that I have been training at, is telling me to keep swimming. But I also know that such a need to prove myself is not the right reason to keep swimming and that such an outlook is just another inner demon I would need to overcome. I need to swim because I love it, because it is a part of my life but not my entire life. These are the things I need to contemplate and mull over in the next few weeks.

All this being said, I just realized that the majority of my blog entries have been characteristically deep and serious, with a huge serving of misery. Therefore on a lighter note, I will say, that I am insanely proud of how my young team of four rookies (not including me) performed at these Games. All of them managed to not get overwhelmed by the grandeur of the Olympics yet use the excitement and atmosphere here to fuel national record-breaking swims. Additionally, one of the girls broke the Asian record and in the process placed fifth in the 100 fly! FIFTH! That is such a big deal for Singapore swimming and I cannot express how happy and excited I am for her.

I will also say that despite the disappointing outcome of my swims, I am proud of how well I prepared myself for these games. Like I said earlier, I have never been more prepared for any meet in my life and I am very proud of that fact. Although I have no results to show for it, I have learned that I am not afraid of doing the work and more importantly, I had a great time doing so. I guess you could say that even though the outcome was not what I desired, I thoroughly enjoyed the process of training for these games. And for now, I am working on convincing myself that that is enough.

-Nicolette Teo


Jillian Ellis

August 16, 2008

Last night we prevailed over Canada 2-1 to advance to the semi-finals. It was a battle, and both teams slugged it out through 120 minutes. I was so proud of the two Bruins on the pitch - Kara Lang has been a standout for her team in this tournament, and Lauren Cheney came on late in the game and added a tremendous spark off the bench.

We got a great start, scoring and dominating the first 20 minutes of play. Then a huge thunderstorm rolled in. After two loud cracks of lightning, the referee suspended play, and we headed to the locker-room to wait out the storm. Ninety minutes later play resumed, and Canada had new life. They high-pressured and were rewarded with an amazing blast from their striker Christine Sinclair. What followed was an exhausting, physical battle. We created so many scoring chances but couldn't find the back of the net until overtime when Natasha Kai finished a cross with a great header. After the game, there were smiles and hugs all round!!

Today we got on another plane and headed back to Beijing. We will move into the Olympic village for the remaining games, so it will be good to quit traveling and be around the other athletes. The players are in good spirits - the friends and families have been troopers following us around China. The team will spend today doing some recovery work in the pool, and the staff will meet up with our scouts to begin to prepare for Japan.

- Jillian Ellis


Andrea Duran

August 16, 2008

It is finally good to get out and play some games at the Olympics after our long tour and practices. The team is doing great so it's a lot of fun. Personally I am getting a little bit of a slow start, but my time will come. I am just trying to stay positive, which isn't that hard because the team is winning and we are playing really well right now!

As for my first at-bat of the Olympic Games, I tried not to make it any bigger than what it was because it is still the same game that I have been playing for the past 13 years of my life, just on a bigger stage. I really wanted to hit so when the pitcher hit me, I was kind of like "Oh well, I am on base, woo hoo haha." I think I scored the first run of the Olympics for us, so that was kind of cool! My cousin said he got a picture of it.

Our schedule has been pretty busy so there's not that much room for free time, which is O.K. because it is good to stay focused. My typical day lately has been getting up, getting semi-dressed and then walking the long walk to the huge dining hall, where I usually eat a bowl of oatmeal, some fruit and whatever else looks good. From there I return back to my room to finish getting dressed and head with the team to the bus that takes us to the field. The drive is about 40 minutes. We play our game at 12 p.m., then head back on the bus. Sometimes I read on the bus or just mellow out. When we get back to the dorms, I usually wind down, get something to eat and take a shower. Then we have a team meeting, I hang out with some teammates, then get to sleep only to wake up and do it all over again.

Like I said before, I don't mind the schedule because it keeps us focused. The village has been fun. It's amazing to see all the countries and all the different kinds of people. It's really fun to people watch.

Well, tomorrow we get to sleep in before the game against the Netherlands because we play at night, so I am excited for that!

Send a lot of good karma and good energy towards Beijing to help us get gold!

- Andrea Duran


Natalie Golda

August 16, 2008

Semifinals here we come!

With our win over Russia, and the ever confusing bracketology of China losing to Italy - but by one goal and Italy scored less than 12 goals - we have a bye through the quarterfinals and go directly into the medal round. If we win one more game, we're in the Olympic final! We will play the winner of Australia/China. Hungary advanced to the semifinals from the other bracket and will face the winner of Italy/Holland.

Playing for a medal is an awesome feeling, and we're one step closer to bringing it home! We have a few days off (of competition, that is - we'll still train hard!) to get ready for our next opponent and iron out any kinks.

- Natalie Golda


Natalie Golda

August 14, 2008

On to the Next Match

Tomorrow [Friday], we play Russia. They are a very good team that is no longer in contention for a medal - with their loss to China yesterday, they do not advance to the next round. It just goes to show that this tournament is incredibly competitive, and the fact that two European powerhouses - Greece and Russia - are no longer in the running proves that point. Because of our tie with Italy, we would need China to beat Italy in order for us to advance first in our bracket and go straight to the semifinals. If Italy beats China tomorrow, we still advance, but we must play one extra game in the quarterfinals. No problem - just one more opportunity to play under the lights!

Hanging out in the village and watching other athletes compete has been great. I have met so many incredible people, and I love watching them in their respective "craft". I think we have won over a lot of new water polo fans, people saying "Hey, we watched your game - I don't know how you do it. I'd punch someone!" I think we have a great new fan base here with the other athletes.

One thing that has disappointed me, however, is some of the coverage. Not the lack of coverage of smaller sports, but the negative coverage of events such as women's gymnastics. I read a cover story on my e-mail's news feed, and it said something along the lines of "Women's gymnasts lose gold, settle for silver." This is one thing I can't stand about our culture - we don't see the fact that an Olympic medal is a wonderful thing, regardless of the color. Many are quick to jump on certain bandwagons and forget that these people are human, and in regards to the gymnasts, young. Things happen - someone has a remarkable day, someone has a bad day. We as a culture need to stand by our Olympians not only for gold medals, but for their participation. Spread the word.

- Natalie Golda


Jillian Ellis

August 13, 2008

Off to Shanghai!

Last night was a great emotional boost! We beat New Zealand, 4-0, and with Japan crushing Norway, 5-1, we advanced in first place from our group.

The game started in dramatic style as Heather O'Reilly scored with a 30-yard blast in the first minute of the game. The early goal definitely relaxed us, and we put together our best game thus far. After finding out the Norway-Japan score, we were pretty excited to be heading to Shanghai for the quarterfinals.

This morning we boarded a small plane for a two-hour flight. We travel with 60 pieces of team gear, so most of our luggage gets shipped the night before. Our police escort and support personnel make getting around super efficient; they literally shut down the airport and freeways when we travel!

Our next opponent will be Canada. UCLA's Kara Lang is a striker for the Canucks and has had a big role in helping her team advance. Although losing to Sweden yesterday, Canada's earlier results against Argentina and China have helped them move on to the quarters. It will be great to see Kara, and I am sure amid all the preparation Lauren, Kara, and I will find some Bruin time!

- Jillian Ellis


Nicolette Teo

August 11, 2008

Heart broken...that is how I feel right now. My heart is bleeding now and it aches the way hearts ache after a failed relationship.

My 100 breast swim did not go how I planned it to go and I am disheartened, devastated and disappointed. This was supposed to be my time. I've trained so hard, sacrificed so much, did everything right and was so, so, so ready to swim fast. I guess sometimes things just don't go the way we want them to. I think what hurts the most is that I can easily go the time I swam in practice. I did not come all the way here to swim a time I can go at practice!!

I am also upset because my equipment failed me big time! Before my race, I had to change out of two race suits because the first one I struggled into ripped. The fitting was just off for the second suit I put on and there were huge air bubbles in the suit. I finally settled for the third one I put on even though it wasn't the right size because I was not about to try to squeeze into a fourth suit 20 minutes before I was due behind the blocks.

On top of suit troubles, my cap came off in the middle of the race. I am not sure how it happened, but all I know is that midway in the first 50 I felt my outer cap (I also double-cap it when I race) flopping on my head, and in the second 50, I felt it come off completely.

Stuff happens.

However upset I am right now, I know I need to let that swim go and move on. I still have the 200 breaststroke in two days and I need to refocus all of my energy on preparing myself to swim fast there. Focusing on what shoulda, coulda, woulda happenened is a complete waste of energy. I need to forgive myself, learn from the race and let it all go. I gave myself until noon today to moan and cry about my race but now it is time to put it all in the past and not let one bad swim define this whole meet for me.

- Nicolette Teo


Natalie Golda

August 11, 2008

Opening Ceremonies were definitely memorable! According to the Chinese alphabet, we were around 140 out of more than 200 countries, so we had to wait in our "holding tank" for quite some time. Before moving into the gym to be staged for our entrance, we had the awesome opportunity to meet the President, the First Lady, and the former President [George H. Bush] of the United States. We got some great pictures with the President and some of the NBA stars. Once we were in the gym, we tried to stay cool in our blazers and long sleeved shirts, but were pretty unsuccessful. It was hot.

Walking into the stadium is one of the most amazing things you could ever do. Waving at the American flags, seeing the President in the stands, and watching my fellow athletes get excited was unbelievable. There were other athletes around me jumping around and saying, "How COOL is this?" I remembered walking in Athens and having every emotion hit me all at once - I looked like a blubbering fool.

Today [Monday] we play China, and we're excited to finally get the show on the road. The Chinese will be a tough opponent - playing at home in the opening game.

Wish us luck!

- Natalie Golda


Jessica Cosby

August 10, 2008

I played basketball with some of the Chinese athletes that are living at the training center where the American throwers practice while here in Dalian. I was sitting on the bus waiting for everyone else to finish up their workouts, and there was a group of four girls shooting baskets. One of my other teammates got off the bus too and went to play with them.

We played this game where we divided the group into two teams, and you had to make a basket from every spot around the key. Every person on the team got a turn, and their turn lasted until they missed, and each team's turn lasted until each member of the team shot the ball. The goal was to be the first team to make it around the key and make 3 three-point shots. I needed a couple of shots to warm up, which they didn't allow me to have ... it was okay, though, because after my first two turns, I was money (all the basketball players out there know what I mean). After each shot I hit, the boys that were watching were pretty into the game, and a crowd started to gather. Even our security, who I hadn't seen show any sort of emotion, were into the game - maybe because my team was down and they thought that we were going to lose, but it didn't end up that way.

My time here in Dalian is coming to an end, and I am very excited. Not that I haven't had fun here in Dalian, but I am ready to head back to Beijing. I have had fun here interacting with all the people that I have met here. The Team USA staff has been great, the other athletes here are fun to be around, and our interpreters have been really great. Training has been picking up, and I feel pretty good about where I am at the moment and am looking forward to what is to come in Beijing.

- Jessica Cosby


Jillian Ellis

August 10, 2008

Three points!

We defeated Japan 1-0 to earn valuable points in our group. Norway leads the group with six, and they are through to the next round. We will play New Zealand in our next game and need to win or tie to advance. It was an emotional win, but, more importantly, how we played will give us confidence for the next game. We created a lot of chances and kept good possession at times against a very talented Japanese team. There was a pretty good crowd on hand, and occasionally we could hear chants of "USA, USA!" After the game, the players looked like they had been in a swimming pool - the humidity was close to 90%, and our medical staff was urging the players to take on fluids.

Today we boarded a train for Shenyang. Not quite sure why we have to move around in our opening round, but every team is in the same predicament. Ironically, New Zealand was on the same train in the same car, so we had a two-hour ride sitting opposite our next opponent. It was a pretty ride through the Chinese countryside. It was mostly flat, green, rice fields with some hills off in the distance. Most of the players and staff slept or listened to their ever-handy iPods.

Shenyang is a much bigger city, and our hotel is in downtown on a "Vegas like" strip. Our hotel is appropriately named the Marvalot! It is huge and very luxurious. The Brazilian men's team is staying here, and some of the players got to meet Ronaldhino, one of the biggest names in men's soccer. We settled in and will start tomorrow to gear up for New Zealand.

- Jillian Ellis


Nicolette Teo

August 9, 2008

Today is the first day of competition for swimming and it is also Singapore's National Day!! This morning, we had a small National Day celebration breakfast and I had the honor of leading our national contingent in saying our pledge. I'm not going to lie, it was pretty cool.

After the breakfast celebrations, my team and I headed off to the village pool to get in our morning session. I'm feeling alright in the water right now but in the words of UCLA's assistant coach, Erika Hansen, 'feel is irrelevant' or in other words, it really does not matter how i feel in the water.

What i love most about meets is the pure thrill of competition... the excitement that runs through your veins when you step up on the block and look over at your competitior in the next lane and think to yourself 'bring it on!!'

I love the fact that character always beats reputation, that it doesnt matter who is ranked higher or has done more yardage or who feels great in the water today or even who's is actaully the faster swimmer. What matters most is who wants it more, who is going to lay it all out on the line and just swim, balls out, leaving everything behing in the pool. Character always beats reputation!

I swim the 100 breaststroke tomorrow and surprisingly I am not nervous... well maybe a little nervous but it's more nervous excitement! I can hardly wait to get out there and just race!

So wish me luck Bruin family because when I'm out there racing, not only will I be representing Singapore, I will also be there swimming as a Bruin!

- Nicolette Teo


Andrea Duran

August 9, 2008

My flight over to Beijing went smoothly. It did not feel very long at all. I kept myself occupied by reading, eating and napping. Playing Sudoku on my Nintendo DS also kept me occupied. The flight wasn't that bad because I already knew what to expect since this is the third time I've been to China.

The Opening Ceremonies were so awesome. This is my first Olympics and my first Opening Ceremonies and it was a memory that will last a lifetime. Growing up I would always watch the Opening Ceremonies waiting for the United States to walk out and here I was doing it myself. It was a great experience. As I was finally walking through the tunnel after waiting to walk out on the track, the entire U.S. delegation started to chant "USA!, USA!" and it was an incredible moment.

When I finally got to the opening of the stadium, it was one big rush to see all of the people up in the stands cheering and waving for our country. I will never forget that moment. It got me so pumped to finally get these Games started. Another highlight was the torch lighting ceremony. To be there live gave me chills and at that moment I knew it was finally time to get down to business.

- Andrea Duran


Nicolette Teo

August 8, 2008

Today is the day of the opening ceremony for the Beijing 2008 Olympics. 8.8.08! While participating in the opening ceremony is truly an experience of a lifetime, I have opted to sit it out because the opening ceremony is also a very long and draining event whereby you leave the Village around 6 in the evening and do not return till about 2 or 3 am. Seeing as how I have the 100 breast in two days time, I figure I'm making a smart sacrifice by staying behind. In addition to being a tiring event, one does not get to actually see much of the ceremony, as parading athletes and officials are cooped up in a holding tank for hours on end waiting for their turn to walk into the stadium. I think Singapore is country number 197 and is expected to parade out around 10:30 pm. I plan to be fast asleep by then! I recall fondly my very first opening ceremony at the 2000 Sydney Games. I didn't swim the 100 breast at that Olympics and didn't have to worry about what time I got home or how tired I was. Besides, I think I was too young and too excited to even have such thoughts cross my mind! (Read More)


Kara Lang

August 8, 2008

It's Friday, and the opening Ceremonies are tonight. Although we have already played our first game of the tournament, today the Games will officially kick off. Unfortunately, our team will not be able to participate in the event because our first two games are in the city of Tianjin, which is a few hours away from Beijing. Traditionally, the ceremonies go on well into the night, and we've been warned that if we made the trip to Beijing, we wouldn't get back to our hotel here in Tianjin until at least 4:00am. As a team, we decided that as much as we would love to march in with the rest of the Canadian athletes and participate in the opening ceremonies, pulling an all-nighter is clearly not the best way to prepare for a game the next day. Especially since we're playing China, who will definitely have the home field advantage with about 99% of the 70 000-seat stadium full of screaming Chinese fans. It is a little disappointing to have to miss out on such an integral part of the whole Olympic experience, but in the end we're here to play soccer, and so the decision was an easy one. (Read More)


Jillian Ellis

August 8, 2008

Opening night!

We trained this afternoon in preparation for our match against Japan tomorrow. We went out for about an hour and went through a technical warm-up and a walk-through to familiarize ourselves with Japan's style and system of play. The team is upbeat and ready to take the next step towards earning three points in our group. At every training site, the local support staff has been very helpful and welcoming. There are almost 30 Olympic support personnel at every training session, so we have plenty of assistance when we have to move the cast iron goals around the field! Before we load up to leave, the team will pose for pictures with them and then get on the bus to start "the wave" game. It has become easy entertainment and gets pretty loud and amusing - each side of the bus will see how many people will wave back at them and then scream out a running total. The game is evolving, as there are now bonus points for a blown kiss or a salute. Bottom line - these guys will make anything a competition! (Read More)


Natalie Golda

August 8, 2008

Hello Bruin family!

Sorry it has taken me so long to post, but we've been very busy. Moving into the Olympic village was an incredible experience, and we had a day off to soak it all in. The rooms are great (air conditioned), the food is good, and the people are nice. I have no complaints! Opening ceremonies are tonight, and everyone is excited to wear our snazzy outfits. We're hoping it cools off a bit before we get out there, but it should be a remarkable experience! My team makes fun of me a bit for my description of the opening ceremonies in Athens - it's like every emotion pulsing through your body. You have no idea what to expect, and it's a moment you've dreamed of your entire life. (Read More)


Jillian Ellis

August 6, 2008

Game Day!

We spent all day at the hotel waiting for our evening match. For the players, the day is about relaxing and mentally preparing for the game. In between meals, some of the players got to meet up with their friends and family who had just arrived in town. We had a brief meeting after lunch and watched a highlight video of some previous games. Finally, at 5pm we loaded up the bus and left our hotel for the stadium. Tonight was our opening match against Norway in the first round of group play. It was a less-than-auspicious start as we lost 2-0, but with two more group games we can still determine our own fate. The top two teams from each group advance to the quarterfinals. Giving up two quick goals in the first ten minutes of play made it an uphill battle from the very beginning. Norway played their typical, direct style of soccer and capitalized on their chances. Our starting left back, Lori Chalupny, was in a collision in the opening two minutes and had to leave the game with a concussion. (Read More)


Jessica Cosby

August 6, 2008

I have been in Dalian for a couple of days now and I am still having some trouble establishing a regular sleep pattern. Other than that, everything else is going pretty well. Yesterday, I went out into the city on a trip to the mall, which was a pretty cool thing to see. The mall that we went to was maybe five or six stories high (it could have been higher, but we only went up a few levels) and they sell pretty much everything there, from electronics and clothes to produce and meat. Of course, we didn't make this trip alone; we had four police escorts in addition to the two police officers assigned to each small group of five to six people. Our translator and guide for the day was a police officer (I can't remember her name), but she was really nice and took us to the food market place where she bought us a type of fruit that has a hard outer case and you break it open to eat the white fruit inside. I was kind of hesitant at first and waited for someone else to take the first bite and give a report. I really wish that I knew the name of it, but it was pretty good. The taste was like that of a green grape except it was a little slimy. (Read More)


Jillian Ellis

August 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! (Read More)

- Jillian Ellis


Nicolette Teo

August 1, 2008

I arrived in Beijing late yesterday afternoon and travelled with the main Singapore contingent. We were privileged enough to be passengers on the Airbus A380's maiden voyage from Singapore to Beijing. For those that don't know what that means, the A380 is the latest commercial plane that is out at the moment. It features a double-decker, which means more cabin room, etc. The Singapore Airline's economy-class seats feature larger LCD screens in each seatback, as well as an AC power supply in most seats, composite video, USB and ethernet connectivity. I was definitely impressed, and SQ always has the best movie selections for you to choose from! I usually catch up on my movies when I fly home! (Read More)


Jessica Cosby

August 1, 2008

I have finally made it through team processing here in San Jose. I had no idea what to expect except for a long day and that was exactly what it was. The most memorable part of the team processing experience for me hands down was shopping from station to station for my Olympic Team clothing while pushing a grocery cart around a big meeting room. I like to shop and I thought it was so much fun. There was so much clothing that I got, I actually wished that I didn't bring so many clothes. This really didn't matter much because we got to ship home all of the extra stuff that we didn't need. Although today was a long day, I enjoyed every minute of it. Ring sizing, the meetings, getting my clothes altered, taking pictures, and having the media follow you around. This is something that I will remember forever and be able to tell my children and grandchildren about one day. (Read More)


Jillian Ellis

August 1, 2008

Secure shopping!

Yesterday was a day off and it rained most of the day. Instead of going to see the eastern-most point of the Great Wall, we took a shopping excursion in the afternoon into downtown Qinhuangdao. Not everyone went, which was probably a good thing because we had one security guy for every person! Some of them were in uniform and some were in plain clothes but you definitely feel very safe. I think we were the first team to venture out in the city because there were lots of stares and shoppers wanting pictures and autographs. We wandered through a market and into some department stores, but I don't think there were too many purchases made. Lindsay Tarpley (wife of UCLA assistant coach B.J. Snow) and Lori Chalupny are professional shoppers, and when they told me to wait until Shanghai I promptly tucked away my wallet. (Read More)


Natalie Golda

July 31, 2008

Hello Bruin family!

I'm excited to have been asked to do a blog for the fans on the UCLA website! Hopefully, I can give you some fun insight into the Olympic Games. I'm not the usual "We won, and so-and-so scored so many goals..." blogger, but I do bring some spice into the mix here. Currently, I'm sitting in my hotel room in Da Xing, China. I woke up at 6:30 a.m. for no particular reason - so I'm writing to you while listening to some Bad Company. We have been here since Wednesday and will leave for the Olympic Village on Monday. (Read More)


Jillian Ellis

July 30, 2008

Dragons in China!

Today we had a closed door match against the Chinese Women's National Team. Closed door typically means the match is off-limits to anyone outside of the immediate team personnel; however, the 100 or so field staff, security workers, and event personnel got an up-close look at both teams in action. The field was about 20 minutes from our hotel, and when we got off the bus there were quite literally hundreds of dragonflies swooping around the field. These weren't lightweight dragonflies, these suckers were BIG! Fortunately there were no incidents to report of anyone swallowing a dragonfly ... but I will freely admit the coaches were quieter than normal! (Read More)


Jillian Ellis

July 29, 2008

The life of Skype!

We had a great training session this evening. The players are finding their legs after the jet lag and really looked sharp at practice. The other teams in our bracket (New Zealand, Japan and Norway) have started arriving in Qinhuangdao. In total, there will be eight teams at the hotel - four women's teams and four men's teams. The security is extremely tight; we have police escorts to and from practice, and there are military personnel all around the hotel perimeter. Even the beach front of the hotel has a seven-foot fence reaching out into the ocean about 100 yards to cordon off the area from the vacationing crowds. Located on the east coast of China on the Bohai Sea, Qinhuangdao is definitely a popular vacation spot with the Chinese. Even at 10pm tonight there were still crowds out in the ocean enjoying the warm evening. (Read More)


Jillian Ellis

July 28, 2008

Ni Hao!

After six months of training and traveling the world, we landed in Beijing last Thursday and got our first taste of Olympic fever in the capital. There were Olympic banners, media, volunteers, folks from the USOC (United States Olympic Committee) and curious onlookers all excited by the arrival of one of the first teams to land in Beijing. We got the VIP treatment as we were whisked through the Olympic immigration lane and climbed on a bus to our first stop, Beijing Normal University. (Read More)


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