Beijing Visit

What can I say about our trip? It has brought the unknowns to the surface and many of the fears we have been influenced by look to appear less of a concern. For the few days that we toured the city, rowing venue and Olympic village the expectation was that the pollution would be the most obvious concern. Surprisingly our first day when we visited the rowing venue it appeared like a low fog but not as bad as what we have heard it can be like. The second day though we were greeted by blue sky’s and enjoyed the warmer temperature. It is amazing to consider just how much goes into an event this size and with that the amount financially that is required. Much has been speculated about the Games to come and this was why Duncan, Chris and I wanted to do the trip. To be able to get a first hand look at things and to confirm in our mind the reality of what we will be walking into come August. It was critical to us and during the trip I was amazed at how quickly many of my fears and concerns washed away. That’s not to say all questions have been answer, but the big issues around pollution, travel between village and rowing venue and the conditions of water where all pretty much reduced by what we saw. As a team we will still have to be on the front foot when it comes to making the best of the situations that will challenge everyone but it was great to be able to see and then discuss how we may prepare ourselves. The group we join was from the AOC and our rowing group included our head coach and three other coaches, plus our physiologist and Duncan and I. It was a real collaborative exercise and one that enable all of us to share ideas and think through the various logistics. Mainly we spent our time as the rowing group at the rowing venue. It was impressive and certainly is equal to any in the world. The village visit on the second day was worthwhile as this will be the first time that the rowing team will be staying in the village while competing. It must be said that it looks like the village will be as good as any we have seen and actually better possible. As for the other elements of our visit that we didn’t expect, it was quiet surreal on the first morning to step of the hotel and pick a direction to go for a walk with a few of our group and come upon the Forbidden City. This led us against the flow of people to Tianaman Square, which obviously had us, standing in awe of the size and reflecting on the significance of the place. All this at 6.20am was quiet overwhelming. The other fascinating activity we enjoyed was visiting the markets and haggling for best price on the array of products available. We also had a meal out the night before we left which was very enjoyable. Catching up with some Australian friend over there gave us perspective on many things and it real was great to hear about the many things we had questions about. The AOC were great in allowing us to join them. To be able to visit Beijing and gain clarity around what we are in for has been of benefit. Rowing Australia will now have the opportunity to better plan and prepare our team based on our experiences. Personal much has been said in our media here about the place, to me it was an eye opener and certainly I can see ways to ensure we are the best we can be in August.


Anonymous said…
What about the China's human rights record, Tibet, its support of the regime in the Sudan, its jailing of democracy advocates like Hu Jia and its crackdown on the Falun Gong etc, etc?

Does this bother you as an athlete?

Would you like to have seen the games held somewhere else?

Is it fair that athletes should be dragged into this politics as seems is happening?

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