Michael Parkhurst of the New England Revolution is a member of the US Olympic Soccer Team. Major League Soccer's Rookie of the Year in 2005 and Defender of the Year in 2007, the 23-year-old Providence native and Wake Forest graduate will be writing a diary for us while he competes in the Summer Games. Here's his first post:
We are currently staying in a hotel in the city of Tianjin, where our first two matches will be played. Our third game will be in Beijing, where we'll stay in the Olympic Village.
Now I have never been to Fort Knox, but I would assume it's about as tough to get into as our hotel here. The only people staying at our hotel are the seven other Olympic soccer teams who are playing in Tianjin: three men's teams (all our opponents) and four women's teams. Thus, I'm not joking when I say there are multiple security checkpoints and airport-like metal detectors outside the entrance for any visitors brought in by players. Needless to say, we feel quite safe.
Inside the hotel, we rarely interact with the other teams. We are all on different floors and have rotating schedules for practices, using the gym or pool and meals. When we do cross paths, there is a mutual respect felt with, most often, a nod of the head or a simple "hello."
And now onto one of the most talked about issues regarding the Olympics: the dreadful smog. Let me remind you we are about an hour outside Beijing. That being said, the smog does exist and it is noticeable.
There is no such thing as a bright blue day around here, although I did see a small patch for a bit yesterday. But for the most part it is just a gray haze. The visibility out into the distance from our hotel does not span more than a couple miles. So the smog is a reality. However, it's not something that will greatly affect us during the Games. It is one of the reasons we came China a week early and I think most of us, by now, have adapted to the heat, humidity and ... smog.
We are enjoying our time here in Tianjin and the hospitality demonstrated by the hosts has been nothing short of first-rate.
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