Saturday, August 16, 2008

Swimming Concludes...

The 2008 Olympic Games for the swimmers is now complete. It was a successful week for many of them. The 400 medley relay final was this morning (Mark swam on the prelim relay on Friday... the US prelim relay qualified first as they headed into finals). The relay, though I didn't have tickets, was spectacular with another world record and a gold medal. Mark, though he did not swim in the finals still received a gold medal for his efforts to get the team into the finals. He, like all elite athletes, always sees room for improvement in his performances, but sees the last four years and the last few weeks as a huge accomplishment.

Instead of going to the Water Cube to watch the event today (it was one of the hardest tickets to get because of the Michael's history-making event) mom and I went to the Forbidden City and took a rickshaw tour through a neighborhood. It was fascinating! We toured through a Hutongs where thousands of people lived. The guy driving our rickshaw told us that there is only 1 toilet and 1 shower for every 100 people. Can you imagine?! We saw children playing, women sewing, and small businesses such as bakeries throughout the neighborhood. The "streets" were so small that our tiny rickshaw could barely fit through them. Our "driver" told us that these neighborhoods were more than 500 years old.
After touring the Hutongs, mom and I actually sat down at a restaurant! We had dumplings and some kind of chicken... I think. Neither one of us knows how to use chopsticks, so mom used the soup spoon to eat her chicken and I poorly stabbed at my food with a chopstick. We are so proud of ourselves for eating real food (and all of you that have commented on our previous food diaries of french fries, Pizza Hut, and Zone bars should be proud of us too!).

This afternoon, now that swimming is over, Mark will check out of the athlete village and come to our hotel for the next few nights. We did have a chance to visit Mark in the village a couple of days ago. It is amazing. It is like its own city with a population of more than 15,000. Within the athlete village there is a huge dining hall where all athletes eat, a barber shop, post office, stores, a museum and anything else you might find in a small town. The athletes stay in apartments that are similar to college dorms. We had so much fun sitting in the dining hall with Mark and all of the other athletes. Mom sat next to Jason Lezack and was thrilled when Jason pulled his new bronze medal out of his bag and let her hold it.

Looking around, even though the village is great, we were even more amazed that these athletes were able to perform best times, best performances and record breaking races. Between the small living spaces, all of the traveling, cafeteria food and all of the walking I can see where it would be difficult to perform at your best... but many of these athletes do! When I think about it... I am more impressed with every event I see.

Mark and I will be sight seeing more in the next few days after my mother and the Gangloff's head back to the States tomorrow. Mark and I will stay until the 21st. I will probably post one more time and then I will pass the blog back over to Mark so that he can share his experiences with you. Thanks again for your support!


Katie Brock said...

"You know what I like about Chinese people? They're hanging in there with those chopsticks. You know, they've seen the fork. And the spoon. I don't see how they don't get it. I mean, Chinese rice farmer out there using a shovel. Hello! Shovel. He's not out there plowing forty acres with a couple of pool cues!" - Jerry Seinfeld

Kari said...

great job on the blogging ashley! and tell mark we've all been cheering for him and are so proud! can't wait to see you guys when you get back, have fun exploring and travel safe!

Anonymous said...

Thank you Mark and Ashley for your very enlightning blog. We truly appreciate all of your effort.

Dick and Jane
Dixon, Illinois

Anonymous said...

Great blog. I got a good flavor of the Olympic experience. Was wondering if we might be able to touch base with Mark or his parents Sunday. (Monday - Beijing time). I am a reporter with the NBC Cleveland television station. You can contact me at

Jenny said...

Well-The Gangloff contingent made it home-FINALLY!!! Was about a 34 hour trip home from the time we left the hotel until we got back here. China and the Olympics were great but there's "no place like home"! Amazingly all the flights went exactly as scheduled and hopefully they did for your mom too. Mark and Ashley-have fun & enjoy your days together. This has been an amazing experience and we want to thank you both! Love, Mom

Anonymous said...

Hey Mark- bet you will be glad to get home and thanks for all the updates! We are always so proud of you..... Love the Dudley-Riveras
(Willye) !!!