Sunday, August 22, 2010

U-S-A

Okay, so I was probably a bit harsh on my last post about the American presence in Singapore :).  At the suggestion of friend, I visited the Team USA website to try and get the rest of the story.

The U.S. sent the maximum number of athletes possible.  They were restricted to 70 individuals who could qualify in their individual sports and one girls and one boys team for team events.  This does help explain to me why we aren't represented in some areas :).  There are even 6 from Illinois!! 

The Youth Olympics is suppose to be about more than just winning, so the lack of presence in the medal count shouldn't bother me (but I admit it does).  Maybe it's partly because China was the leader through yesterday with the US not even in the top 8 for total medal count.  I saw this on the news, haven't been able to find it listed anywhere else to get regular updates.  Apparently they're serious about it not being all about gold :). 

Tonight I watched the US women's volleyball team play Belgium and they went back and forth but finally won the match 3 games to 2.  It was very close.  The Belgium fans were loud and good.  The US fans weren't bad, but lost the battle :).  Myself included...I've never been much good as a cheerleader.  I can clap, but I don't really yell.  I caught the men's Cuba v. Argentina game beforehand.  Here are some pics of our ladies in warm-ups and play.  I tried to get some good action shots.

Saturday, August 21, 2010

Americans....where are you??

We're wrapping up day 7 of the Olympics now and one question I am repeatedly asking myself is where are all the Americans?!? They don't seem to be in any of the gold/silver/bronze finishes but also don't seem to be anywhere else either.  Maybe I'm use to seeing only US coverage of US sports? I also don't know how you could be selected for the Youth Olympics or if you had to pay your own way. 

Either way, there are far less Americans than I expected.

I'm putting together some pictures from my attendance at the badminton, table tennis and volleyball events and hope to share those experiences shortly.

In the meantime, here are some interesting tid-bits from the past week.
  • The Iranian women's soccer took the field in full gear.  They were appropriately covered from head to toe.  It looked like they had something similar to swim caps for their hair.  I guess you'd have to in order to keep in place while running around.
  • I did see a U.S. athlete - he won silver in the men's triathlon.
  • Badminton is a serious sport.  One kid's racket broke in mid-swing.  The round part snapped right off and was bent.
  • In one of the women's taekwondo weight categories, we did have a U.S. representative.  She screamed with every kick and had a helmet that allowed her a pony tail to stick out the top. 
  • I found out more about the 3-on-3 basketball games.  They consist of two 5 minute halves or end with the first team to 34 points.  Must make for quick games!
  • There are all sorts of 'mixed' competitions - mixed swim medley - 2 boys, 2 girls; mixed triathlon - 2 boys, 2 girls, each from different countries!  Different, but interesting and helping to promote the good spirit of the games I guess.
  • Did you think the 2008 Chinese gymnasts were young??  You should have seen the Chinese "youth" gymnast.
  • The Youth Olympics allows competitors aged 14-18.  I think most competitors I've seen are 17-18. 

**UPDATE**
Sure enough - I type this and then the U.S. women win gold in the 400M and bronze in the long jump.  Must just be the more evenly distributed coverage :).  By the way...gold winner in the long jump was Lena from Germany :).

Monday, August 16, 2010

Opening Ceremonies

A while ago, I entered the "raffle" to be eligible for tickets to the opening ceremonies.  I don't get the sense that the YOG (Youth Olympic Games) are super popular here, so lucky for me, my ticket was drawn.  I bought the cheapest ticket there was.  Seating was first come, first serve. Gates open at 4pm, be in your seat by 7:30 for a 7:45pm start.  That was a long wait and it was raining at 2pm when I went to pick up my F1 tickets (!woohoo!).  I came prepared - ziploc bag for my camera, hat for sun and/or rain and my trusty raincoat.  I headed over to the stadium (The Float @ Marina Bay) which is floating on the water, no rain, very hot and humid.  I found a seat around 5:30 and was stinky, sweaty...but so was everyone else ;).  I'm in the upper right corner - far green seats behind the big light post.  For some reason, I couldn't get the picture any bigger.


At one point the clouds started rolling in, but thankfully no rain!  Everyone got big bags with goodies - bottle of water, program, light-up heart, light-up dove that can fly, lion bread, batteries for the toys, an YOG flag and Singaporean flag.  Everyone else seemed to also get thunder sticks, clappers, whatever you call the inflatable tubes that bang together for a boom.  I searched and searched, but mine must have gotten lost.  I was disappointed - those had lights in them too!  These were all props for the show.


Before the show started, apparently broadcast to 2 billion people world-wide, we had some instructors come out to help us learn a dance, when to use the light-ups, etc.  The practice didn't really pay off...at least from where I was sitting :).   At 20:10 (military time for 8:10pm), the ceremonies officially started with lots of fireworks. I had my new DSLR camera but have failed to really learn how to use it.  Thus, my pics are not as wonderful as some others I've found.  Enjoy a few professional YOG pics I got in my newsletter (yes I'm an Olympic nerd who subscribes to the newsletter).  Or, view the entire slide show .


I did not see this spelled out from my vantage point :).



Now, some of my amateur pics ;) :

They had big screens which really helped - although the cameramen did not always seem very practiced.  But they had actual people all along the top of the stage...can you see the orange/red specks??


Here was a crazy monster.  It was like the anime (sp?) portion of the program.  I didn't get it.


Awesome fire-breathing dragon.  At the end, he lit up in fire all along his back and his tail.


Flag procession.....the United States of America!!  We actually got quite a large crowd cheer.  I was worried after hearing the cheering sections from other countries.  But we represented.


The last pass before the torch was lit.  Do you see the lighted figure in the background, right side? It's a dragon, I think, that came across the water with the torch bearer...it was pretty cool. 


And the torch was lit from the bottom of the lighthouse winding its way upwards.  It was pretty cool as well and fitting for Singapore being a hub for water transport.

I taped/DVR'd the televised version.  I still need to watch it, but I'm sure it'll be pretty awesome :).  The program was over ~10:20pm and I was home before midnight.  Actually better than I thought - I was not looking forward to the crowded ride home.  The bus was a much better alternative to the train.

Sunday, August 15, 2010

Youth Olympians...Welcome to Singapore

Saturday evening Singapore was host to the first ever Youth Olympic opening ceremonies.  It was a great program and I was surprised how fast five hours rolled by.  Yep, I was there waiting, watching and waiting again for a little over five hours, but would definitely do it again.  I will share more pics and comments later. Here are fireworks from the lighting of the torch (lighthouse) with the Singapore sky line in the background.


Tonight (Sunday) I have been watching highlights of competitions which started today.  The local cable has a few dedicated channels for broadcasts.  I was busy cleaning today and turned it on late tonight, but now I'm consumed! I'm regretting not getting more event tickets.  I might have to take some time off work this week and attend more events.

I don't know what it is about the Olympics, but I love them, the spirit of them, etc.  What's more amazing is I don't have USA-only coverage.  In fact, in the broadcast I've been watching, the U.S. has only turned up 4 times I think.  For a while I was like...hello, didn't we send anyone?? :)  No worries, we did. 

Some highlights for you so far:
  • China blew away competition in women's weightlifting - scary looking young women.
  • Taekwondo is fierce and I would have loved to see it.  The only U.S. appearance to make highlight reels was a young man who lost to Iran in a semi-final.
  • The same Iranian was set to fight/kick/compete his Israeli counterpart in the gold medal match, but withdrew due to medical reasons giving Israel the gold.  (The word on the internet is that Iran regularly protests competitions with Israel as they do not recognize them as an independent nation.  Sad for the kid.)
  • U.S. men and women are favored in basketball, which is a 3-on-3 competition with 4-man teams (i.e. one substitution).  Both won today - the women demolishing the Singapore ladies.
  • One of the women's bball games was 6-6 at the half.  That must have been painful to watch!  I'm not sure how long the halves are, probably not too long considering it's only 3-on-3.
  • U.S. women's swimmer won gold in the individual medley today and the women's triathlete is going home with a bronze!
  • Other sports today - fencing, tennis, roman-greco wrestling, badminton, rowing.
  • Winners are coming from all over! It's so great to not have a handful of countries dominating the podium.  Maybe I'm seeing too many prelims and semis, but I really love the variety of winners.
This may consume my life the next couple weeks ;). 

Monday, August 9, 2010

Happy 45th!

Today was Singapore's 45th birthday - I think I mentioned it in a previous post.  There is a parade and show that is put on.  The tickets are a hot item so I opted to enjoy the live televised version.  The parade portion was mainly all the military vehicles that I posted pics of before.  There are spectator stands put up downtown and the parade is really just in front of that area rather than what I would think of as a typical parade.  I had mentioned to someone earlier in the week about how early you had to camp out a spot and where you could go, which was when I realized it wasn't like sitting on the street curb waiting for the party to come by you.

The full military went by and they had announcers just like the Macy's or Rose Parade telling what each type of vehicle it was, war-time function and various military heads.  Different than what I was use to, but interesting to see it all. 

After dark, I heard a rumbling and the procession was continuing around the island and right by my condo.  But I mainly only saw lights.  Then more booms indicated the fireworks had started and I watched on TV.  This year, they set off fireworks from the top of several tall towers across downtown.

Here are a couple pictures and short video (ending with the President of Singapore) taken from the wonderful vantage point of my couch :).



video

Sunday, August 1, 2010

The Haunting

Last night, well early this morning really, was weird.  I woke up to a big storm outside at like 5:30am.  I was still sleepy and took me a little while to figure out what was going on.  I could hear the rain and occasional thunder. 

As I was waking up, I rolled over to find my bedroom door wide open.  Not that big of a deal except I specifically closed it shut when I went to bed.  It's happened to me before, I wake up with the door ajar.  It doesn't always latch well.  So now I make sure it's completely shut/latched before heading to bed.  It's really just an air conditioning issue as I only want to cool my room during the night.  Anyway, it threw me off that now it was wide open.

Then I realize the sound of rain is all too real.  Did I have water leaking somewhere? What is going on? I finally get out of bed to find that one of my windows is open.  How in the world?!?  It wasn't wide open and there was no water coming in.....but it still freaked me out.

I had to get up, turn on all the lights, look in all the rooms, behind doors, etc.  It was creepy.  Front door was still locked.  Once all checked out fine, I went back to sleep.

Is my apartment haunted?? or just that shoddily made?