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Today at the Olympics: US hoops faces Argentina again, women's 4x100 relay

Posted by Chad Finn, Globe Staff August 10, 2012 07:14 AM

LONDON -- Welcome to Day 14 of competition -- yep, we're two full weeks into this thing, with three days of Games left to go. Hard to believe this is coming to an end faster than Usain Bolt coming around the turn (OK, not quite that fast), but there's still plenty of good stuff yet to come. Today's docket includes medals in athletic, boxing, BMX cycling, field hockey (a very fun sport to watch live), sailing, soccer, swimming, synchronized swimming (where Harvard's Alex Meyer competes in the 10-kilometer open water race) , taekwondo, and wrestling.

Friday's must-see event: On most days -- perhaps all of them before today -- a medal event would be mentioned in this space. But the most intriguing competition Friday is a rematch of a game that actually happened Monday, and wasn't even close. The United States men's basketball team takes on Argentina in the semifinals, four days after beating them by 29 points (126-97). Another blowout is possible with the talent on the US roster and LeBron James playing as well as he ever has, but history suggests Argentina will make a game of it. In an Olympic tuneup less than three weeks ago, the winning margin for the US was just six (86-80), and the more recent game was close into the third quarter until Kevin Durant matched the entire Argentinian team with 17 points in the frame. Argentina was the first team to beat a US team constructed of NBA stars (2002 World Championships), and they took them down two years later to win the gold in Athens. With proud, tough veterans such as Manu Ginobili and Luis Scola, Argentina should provide the US with its toughest test in the tournament.

Also worth watching: Medals will be awarded in six athletics events today: the men's 4x400 and pole vault, and the women's hammer throw, 5,000-meters, 1,500-meters, and 4x100 relay. It's the latter that should stand as the most compelling competition. The US blazed through its qualifying heat (41.64 seconds), but in recent Olympics the team has had a history of mishaps and has not won gold since Atlanta. That could change Friday with Allyson Felix and Carmelita Jeter leading the US foursome, but Jamaica, with 100-meter gold medalist Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce and Veronica Campbell-Brown on its side, should be right there stride for stride.

Thursday's big stories: Gotta go plural here, or at least one Big Story, Team Division and one Big Story, Individual. The first is the US women's soccer team's 2-1 victory over Japan, avenging their loss on penalty kicks in the World Cup final last year, a disappointing defeat that served as motivation to accomplish what they did Thursday night. ďThey snatched our dream last summer,Ē Megan Rapinoe said. ďAnd this kind of feels like the nightmare turned back around.Ē

As for the individual who stole the night, well, who else but Usain Bolt? The transcendent, so-cocky-it's-comical sprinter completed his double-double, winning the 200-meters for the second straight Olympics just as he had in the 200. His breathtaking acceleration coming around the turn was reminiscent of Michael Johnson doing the same in Atlanta in 1996. In his usual humble way, he declared himself a "living legend'' afterward, which of course is entirely true.

Tweet of the day: While the media is pumping up the familiar names @CarliLloyd was focusing on making sure she outworks everyone and outshines everyone. -- James Galanis ‏(@coachgalanis), a former coach of US women's soccer standout Carli Lloyd. Lloyd, who had both US goals in its 2-1 victory over Japan, retweeted the sentiment.

Mind the gap, and stick around right here for further updates throughout the day.

Let the racing begin

Posted by Matt Pepin, Boston.com Staff July 28, 2012 01:35 PM
gevvie.png Editor's note: Gevvie Stone has agreed to post updates throughout her Olympic debut in London. Stone is a native of Newton, Mass.
Wow! The last few days before racing flew by, and now we're already heading into Race Day #3! Thank you everyone for all the fast wishes sent to the US team. We are feeling very supported by everyone Stateside.

Until seeing the draw on Thursday, the most stressful part of the experience had been finding a seat on the bus. The 7 a.m. and 8 a.m. buses from the village to the course were very popular and very crowded. On Saturday morning, I was one of the last two people who would fit on Bus #3 to the course, and there were two seats left. But, Karsten (W1x) was saving the seat next to her for someone (who wasn't being allowed onto the bus). It took a few minutes of convincing by me and the Dutch rower also needing a seat that Karsten and her coach couldn't each have two seats to themselves. The organizers have solved the problem by making managers reserve seats in advance and checking off athletes from each country as we climb onto the bus.

Then I saw the draw and up til racing, that was the most stressful part of this experience. I am ready to race. I know that I have picked up speed in the last year, and I want to show that. All the same, seeing the draw gave my stomach a turn. It cemented the fact that I am here for a big, important race. Not to socialize with my friends and eat above-par dining hall food. There are 28 entries in the women's single. 13 from developed nations (qualified through 2011 Worlds or the Qualification Regatta) and 15 from developing nations (qualified through Asian, African or South American qualifiers). The race progression starts with 5 heats (3 of 6, 2 of 5). The top 4 rowers from each heat progress directly to the Quarterfinal on Tuesday. The remainder head to one of two reps, each with 4 rowers. The top 2 rowers from each rep join the Quarterfinals. There are four Quarterfinals (yes, that may seem self-explanatory but just in case...). Each with 6 rowers (full use of the lanes). Top 3 rowers from each Quarterfinal progress to the A/B semi-finals on Thursday. (The bottom 3 go to the C/D semis.) Then, on Thursday, the top 3 from each semi head to Final A while the bottom 3 go to Final B. The top 3 rowers in Final A medal.

Before racing, I practiced using the warm-up zone and the starting system. Dorney is unique in that it has a narrower lake (man-made) that runs parallel to the course and is connected by a few channels (with low bridges overhead). Usually, the warm up zone is either on the course (which means moving over into Lane 7 as races come down--lots of interruption) or a little bulge in the shape of the shoreline where there is room for a 750m long oval. It is a treat to have a separate warm-up lane. This way, if bigger boats are warming up/cooling down, the boats racing won't be hit by their wakes. And, it's longer than most warm-up zones (a full 1250m loop) so there is less spinning. I love it! The starting system her is using a new "boot" version. [The boot is a device that comes up from the bottom of the lake and clamps onto the bottom of your hull so that it's impossible to false start. There is also a plastic "U" to place your bow into so that you are exactly on the starting line and exactly pointed down the course.] They're taking care of some of my difficult tasks for me! No being off center at the start and needing to tap my bow around! The difference I notice in this boot system is that the plastic U lights up with some red lights when you touch the plastic (aka are all the way in).

Now on to a recap of racing: I faced Russia, Algeria, Belarus, and Mexico in my heat. The cast of characters:

--Levina (RUS) was one rower I needed to beat to qualify the single for London at Worlds 2011. She got off the line at a blazing speed, and I was in her wake wondering what had happened and trying to catch up. I didn't make it past her. This is her 4th Olympics.

--Karsten (BLR) is the most famous name in women's rowing currently (and maybe ever). She is fast. This is her sixth (yep, sixth--no one on the 2012 American team can claim that.) Olympics! Oh, and she has FIVE Olympic medals to her name (Gold in 1996 & 2000). She won Worlds in 2009 and has been on the podium at Worlds the past 2 years. I am sure she wants another gold.

--Rouba (ALG) has raced the light single internationally, and her best finish is 5th at a World Cup. I had never raced her before and don't know too much about her.

--Gonzalez (MEX) raced two World Cups this year and places 13th and 32nd, respectively.

Many of you watched or have seen the result: I was 3rd in my heat to Karsten of BLR (1st) and Levina of RUS (2nd). Top 4 advanced to the Quarterfinals, so all three of us move on to the next round. Plus MEX (4th).

It was an amazing experience to race down the Olympic course. We had gorgeous weather Saturday, and big crowds came out to cheer us on. The grandstands were packed, and impressively, there were many, many people lining the banks of the course from the 100m mark until where the grandstands began. I could hear the first shouts of the fans at 100m, and the noise didn't stop until after the finish. While on the shore before racing, I saw the crowed do the "wave" a few times. I feel lucky to compete on the Olympic stage in a country which very much loves the sport of rowing and is very, very excited to watch it.

I had a good race, not a great one. I executed a clean start, raced at a respectable rating, and followed my race plan. I had the fastest middle 1000m of my heat. It is impossible to know how much effort my competitors put into the race, but I was closer to Karsten that I ever have been in a heat, and the three of us were relatively packed together as far as heats go. Being closer is a good thing. Now I have to add the extra umph and extra efficiency to get even faster so that I can get past them. On the bus home, I was frustrated by finishing 3rd as I had hoped for 2nd.

One reason I may have been in a bad mood about my racing yesterday was that I was tagged by doping control. That's enough to make anyone grumpy. Immediately upon coming in after my warm-down, I was informed to make my way to the doping control building. I asked to grab my bag and to say hi to my Mom and sister (whom I hadn't seen yet). The woman reluctantly consented and said we could do it "on our way". [Adding to my grumpiness, I found out after sitting in doping control that athletes have one hour to report to the doping station after being informed of testing. The doping officers prefer to bring you straight there but if you insist, you can do your normal warm-down routine (flush, ice-bath, etc) while hydrating and waiting to pee.] Well, after racing on a decently hot day, I was not very hydrated. After two bottles of powerade, two bottles of water, and over an hour, I finally managed to pee. My saving grace the whole time is that the doping control station was televising the Olympic road race so I did have good entertainment while waiting for my bladder.

The US team did have some great performances yesterday and today. Notably, the W2- showed some real speed and hung with the Brits (silver at last year's Worlds) for the entire race. They placed 2nd and head straight to the A Final. The M8+ also had a great start to the regatta, winning their heat and advancing straight to the A Final. Today, the LM4- showed sharp and clean racing to lead their rep start to finish and head to Semifinal A/B. And, lastly, the W8+ displayed a very powerful, dominant performance winning by "a country mile" as the BBC announcers phrased it.

On the international level, the Kiwi (NZL) men's 2- (Murray and Bond) set a World Record by SIX seconds yesterday. That is absurd. It's unheard of. All said in a very good way! They are unquestionably (I think) the best men's pair ever in the history of rowing, and it is sooo fun to see them continue to go faster and faster. Plus, they're nice guys who always says "hello" when you run into them around the race course.

Now let's really backtrack...I can't skip some of the fun Olympic happenings from Friday! That evening we had a full rowing team photo. Now, all team photos have to be done in Nike gear. Ideally, in these sweet navy Nike zip-up sweatshirts with a red collar. But, we didn't know that when we were packing up our gear to send half home, and many people shipped those sweatshirts back to the States. The one Nike outfit we were all guaranteed to have: our podium outfit aka our space suits. These jackets are SUPER reflective. So reflective that if you take a photo with the flash, you can't see anything but the bright white of the jacket. (We also have sweet neon green and black sneakers and socks to go with them...and the socks say "Be brave" on one foot and "Do good" on the other.) Fortunately for our team photo, the day was bright enough that we didn't need a flash. And, it was really fun and incredible to group up with the entire rowing team for a photo. Made it truly feel like #oneteam #onegoal.

After the photo, we headed to dinner at the rowing village cafeteria. Much to our surprise, a marching band came to play! Starting out with the score from "Rocky"! All the rowers (from all the countries) headed to the patio next to the cafeteria to watch while eating dessert. They played well and choose some fun songs. And to up the celebration, during the songs, a kids' acting (?) troupe dressed as different species of birds starting wandering around the crowd. There were ducks, swans, storks, ravens, and these awesome dragonflies on bouncy shoes with ski goggles on their foreheads (they also had giant wings--about five foot spread) that were hitting the occasional head.

About 8pm, most of us rushed off. (Misguided into thinking that opening ceremonies began at 8:12pm because that's 20:12 and how cool would that be?!) A few American boats (M1x, W1x, M2-, W2x, LW2x, and two from the W8+) changed into our opening ceremonies outfits. Really, when are we going to get to wear the entire ensemble again? Gotta get into the spirit! Our team manager had reserved a room and organized a projector. We sat watching and enjoying the thrill of it for the first hour til our coaches sternly told us to head to bed. Of what I saw, I loved the James Bond/Queen skit, Mary Poppins floating in from the sky, the Mr. Bean appearance, Wiggins ringing the bell, and the singing of Jerusalem (one of Winsor's school songs...I still remember our 5th grade pantomime motions). Great moments in the performance.

Next race for me is Quarterfinal #2 6:50am EST on Tuesday July 31st. Keep thinking speedy thoughts!

USA rower tells tale of her first day in London

Posted by Staff July 28, 2012 12:00 PM
gevvie.png Editor's note: Gevvie Stone has agreed to post updates throughout her Olympic debut in London. Stone is a native of Newton, Mass.

My Dad (also plays the role of my coach) and I arrived early last Saturday morning (very early East Coast time) at Heathrow. Immediately upon walking out of the jetway, my Dad and I are approached by two very friendly British men wearing bright pink "London 2012 Volunteer" polos and carrying a sign saying "USA". They guide us through the airport, around the edges of the jam-packed passport control hall with lines that could easily take two hours (I've been in them before) to our special Olympics passport control lanes (two lanes for two people when we arrived) to baggage claim (our luggage had beaten us) and finally to the Olympic welcome desk. As the men's eight's flight was very delayed, we were the only two on a coach bus to the rowing satellite village in Egham (about half an hour northwest of London, a few miles closer to the city than Windsor Castle). I felt incredibly pampered!

As soon as we stepped off the bus, we were greeted by another volunteer who helped us get our credentials (after we went through airport style security). The credentials are VERY important, relatively large badges that are our ID's for the rest of the Games. Then, we stepped on another bus to get to the "south bubble". The satellite village is two "bubbles" (one for entering and going through security and one where we live, eat, etc.) because it's on a university campus and they had to allow part of the campus to continue operating while we're here so that isn't a "secure" zone. If you take a bus from one "secure" zone to another, you don't have to go through security when you arrive, making your life much simpler. The ride from one bubble to the other is about three minutes.

300_blanket.jpgIn the "south bubble", I was shown my room, and my bed was topped with an Olympics quilt as a welcoming gift (pictured at right). I get to take it home with me! I had about five minutes to refresh after the red-eye before rushing off to a quick breakfast. Then, my Dad, Andreas (the boatman), and I were off to USA team processing!

If I haven't stressed it enough already, I want to emphasize: there are many volunteers everywhere on Olympics territory, and they are all super-friendly and super-helpful. It makes the experience much easier--so that the only stress is focused on competition--and that much more enjoyable.

Anyway, team processing was a really fun, "shopping" (because everything is free) scavenger hunt. Upon arrival, the greeters give you a checklist of all the things to accomplish: RL opening and closing ceremony fittings, Nike/RL gear gifting, head shot, ring fitting, watch, Oakley, P&G, shipping, medical forms, USADA. Our list was one short b/c USADA hadn't arrived yet. Darn.

1) RL: I went to processing w/ the men's eight and their coaches. The girls rowing team went through when they arrived, and rowing was the only team to arrive Friday morning. So, I was the only girl going through processing Friday midday. At Ralph Lauren fittings, this meant I had three amazingly nice and fun RL employees fawning over me in a fitting room the size of a school classroom. They buttoned my buttons, they cuffed my sleeves just so, they put my hats on for me to get the proper look, etc.

2) RL & Nike: I step into a school gym and am handed two large duffels (think LLBean bags size Large) packed to the brim, a backpack, and a big cardboard box. One RL duffel and backpack (full of RL attire) and one Nike duffel. The cardboard box is for sending clothes home. There's almost no way anyone could wear it all in two weeks, and it would be very expensive to fly home with three bags (four in my case b/c of my rigger). I packed a little over half what I was given into the box. It'll be like Christmas all over again in late September!

I spent about 90 minutes trying on clothing to make sure I had the right size in everything and because it's really fun to try on new clothes. The staff enjoyed my walking out to show them an outfit every now and then because they only see the clothes in boxes and folded, not on people. Usually teams stick to the fitting rooms as they have each other for feedback on what they like, how things fit, etc. Quick summaries of the gear highlights:

RL: lots of red, white & blue; lots of collars; some "vintage" look stuff; sunglasses!; zip up sweatshirts; sweet backpack

Nike: lots of black, gray and neon yellow; four pairs of sneakers; some very comfy long sleeves; three "podium outfits"; a bunch of comfy yoga pants; a few great lightweight jackets

Oh, and lots of T-shirts in both!

3) Headshot: Pretty self-explanatory (though not ideal after a red-eye and pulling on and off shirts for over an hour)

4) Everyone who competes at the Olympics gets an Olympic ring. Think high school ring with the Olympic Rings as the center of the design. Then, one side has your sport icon with your name above it and the other has 2012. I didn't know about the rings ahead of time. That was an amazing surprise.

5) And a free watch by Hamilton!

6) Oakley: Oakley customized about eight sweet new shades for the Olympic Team. There were three super-awesome women's designs. I wanted them all. I had a TOUGH time making up my mind. I ended up choosing the aviators. I love them.

6) P&G: Another fantastic goody...a messenger bag filled with full size toiletries: shampoo/conditioner, toothbrush, tampons, mouthwash, etc. Luckily, I was warned ahead of time and didn't pack much of that stuff. What a trip saver!

7) Shipping: That big brown box heads to Newton

8) Medical Forms


Complete! I could then sit down and eat lunch. (I was very hungry by 2:30pm.)

After processing, back to the satellite village. This time in a mini coach bus with the men's eight. The driver took us right through the middle of the city, and we got to see Buckingham Palace, the Museum of Natural History, and other classic London city sights. There are signs of the Olympics almost everywhere: on billboards, on street signs indicating the special "Olympic car lane", banners hanging off street lights, etc. It's crazy. In the best way possible.

Great to see the women's team back at the village. There's a really positive attitude among the Team USA rowing group. It's wonderful to be part of such a team. Smiles, lingering at meals, laughing, etc. Also, some cheering for the South African rowing team (who were also in the dining hall at dinner time) because one of them made BBC evening news for his Olympic Rings helmet--think green construction helmet with pipe cleaner Olympic Rings sprouting out of a stalk glued to the top.

And then I had a few hours before bed to revel in the day, take it all in and imprint it on my memory. Go USA!

Day One at the luge track

Posted by Matt Pepin, Boston.com Staff February 16, 2010 08:30 AM


On a training run on Monday, Megan Sweeney sailed past a pair of spectators who appeared more interested in capturing their own moment. (Leon Neal/AFP/Getty Images)

Luger Megan Sweeney, of Suffield, Conn., will provide insight and commentary in occasional blog posts for Boston.com throughout the Winter Olympics.

The first two runs are done Ö and Iím sitting in last. I really donít know what to say, to be honest. I canít make excuses anymore because in reality I should have this start down.

I shouldnít be messing things up like I am. As a competitor, itís hard to accept my performances. I know that no matter my result, my friends and family are all there to support me, itís just that for me personally I KNOW I can do better. Iím not saying that I should be in medal contention (because to be realistic and completely honest I never saw myself on the podium -- my sliding just isnít of that quality yet -- but a top 15 was a very feasible goal.

Tomorrow is going to be tough because I donít have anything to lose. I should be able to sit at the handles, pull off, and let it all out on the track. One of our coaches has many witty sayings that he always seems to pull out at just the right time to make us laugh or smile or to break that anger edge we sometimes get, and he says ďWell, it has to be better because worse is impossible!Ē

But the thing I have to be careful of is putting too much pressure on myself to try and redeem my race.

Thatís the most frustrating thing about luge -- it seems the more I try, the worse I do. The less I try, the more success comes my way. Why is that? It should be a simple equation of what you put in is what you get back, no? We will see how tomorrow goes and Iíll be sure to report back which approach was the input, and the output will be apparent Ö

The view from inside the opening ceremony

Posted by Matt Pepin, Boston.com Staff February 14, 2010 11:50 AM

Luger Megan Sweeney, of Suffield, Conn., will provide insight and commentary in occasional blog posts for Boston.com throughout the Winter Olympics.

To say that my opening ceremonies experience was all that I had dreamed of and more would be a lie.

I canít ignore the fact that one of our fellow luge athletes wasnít getting the chance to walk. He wasnít getting the chance to fulfill his Olympic dream. Our small sliding community was shaken by the sudden death of one of our own and on a day like Friday, it brought a sense of reality to an otherwise outrageous hype.

The day started with the menís training and yes, there were some crashes, but that is nothing out of the ordinary. I was watching the training session and decided to make my way back to the Village before the end so that I could rest up before the 2.5-hour drive down to Vancouver and the madness that was sure to ensue when marching.

Upon arrival at the Village I was checking my e-mail when a bobsled friend of mine called to inquire about the news. I had no idea what he was talking about at first but quickly learned of the tragedy. Our team pulled together along with the rest of the luge community and though not all of us decided to walk in the opening ceremonies, my team did. We were going to support USA, our flag-bearing teammate, and the luge world.

We all quickly dressed in our uniforms, congregated in front of the USA housing with the rest of the US athletes and boarded a bus along with Poland and Cypress that would take us down to Vancouver. We were quite the sight to behold! We had a total of 10 buses, a tag-team of police escorts, and helicopter security.

People would honk their horns, wave out their windows and just stop on the highway to watch. The most humbling site for me was a construction worker. He doesnít know me, yet in the middle of his workday, he stopped, got out of his truck, and stood there with his hard-hat over his heart and watched our entire procession. That respect, that hope, that integrity that he showed to a caravan of strangers is what makes me proud to be an athlete.

The rest of the ride down to Vancouver I spent trying to get my emotions in check and psyching myself up for what I had been waiting so long for -- my chance to represent the USA in opening ceremonies. We finally got to Vancouver (fortunately before the protesters arrived, which blocked some athletes from coming into staging) and went directly to the BC Arena along with all of the other athletes.

It was incredible to see everyone united and ready to make the trek into the stadium Ö but we were going to wait FOREVER! Itís to be expected, and everyone was so excited, but it was SO HOT!! So many bodies, so many puffy jackets and sweaters (but we looked good!) Fortunately, my body has a very high threshold when it comes to heat so I was fine until an hour later when we were still waitingÖ but we managed!

Some fared better than others, but behind the scenes the reality of competition was setting in. Our teammate and flag bearer, Mark Grimmette was concerned initially that the flag would be extremely heavy and the positioning of it could hurt his back for our races. The speed skaters that were lined up behind us were sitting on the concrete floor or in chairs that they could snag so as to save their legs, and my teammates and I were joking (half-hearted) about how much weight we were losing because we were sweating it all out! But as the lines started moving to the tunnel entrance, all that subsided.

Volunteers and performers were standing along the sides taking pictures and cheering us on. When one country would start chanting, the rest would try and outdo them. Every time Mark raised our USA sign, we would all start whooping and hollering, clapping, and screaming ďU-S-A!! U-S-A!!Ē But when we turned the corner, saw the lights, cameras, and people, there was a split second that everyone just stopped.

My body got a shake, and as we moved onto the stage covered in fake snow, all I could feel was the drumming of the natives beside us. The clapping was deafening, and I wanted to cry. My smile could have broken my face, it was so big! For two minutes my life felt complete. I rounded the stage, sprinted up the stairs and was about to sit down when our cue -- ďthe athletes tribute songĒ -- came on the big screen and I had to leave the show because I had training the next morning.

I am sad that I didnít get to see the show, but at the end of the day, I am here for business. I am here to race. So closing ceremonies will be my time to enjoy the show and all that it has to offer!†

Almost there ...

Posted by Matt Pepin, Boston.com Staff February 9, 2010 02:50 PM

Luger Megan Sweeney, of Suffield, Conn., will provide insight and commentary in occasional blog posts for Boston.com throughout the Winter Olympics.

First off, God bless all those bobsled and skeleton athletes who saw my face at 5:30 a.m. for our flight up to Vancouver. My team Iím not so worried about, they understand my physical state in the morning when I havenít had enough sleep or coffee, but the rest of the general publicÖ watch out!

Upon arrival at the airport this morning, we were greeted by a sea of red, blue, stars, and even bobsled helmets as all of us athletes gathered and anxiously awaited our first leg of the trip up to Vancouver. After the first flight from SLC to San Diego (which I made sure I slept!) I was ready to take on the day!

I had this feeling of anxiousness in just wanting to finally get to Vancouver. That and you add in the anticipation of my FREE shopping!!!!!! Yeah, needless to say I was a little excited.

Around 2 p.m., we arrived at the Delta Hotel in Vancouver. We were greeted by our team manager and told to go drop our bags and head down to processing. My first stop was my headshot, which went fairly well. My second stop was picking out my team watch! And my THIRD step was to finalize my Olympic ring!! In the end I went with yellow gold (to match my team necklace) and I upgraded to diamonds (because Iím a girl and thatís what we do.) THEN I got to the clothes, and that was game over.

I was given one gray bag with instructions to NOT touch, send home, or destroy ANYTHING in this bag because itís my opening, closing, and podium clothing. Then I donít even know what happened really Ö one lady after one guy after two guys, from one station to the next, to SHOES, to check-out and then off to alterations Ö it was a literal whirlwind of which I didnít stop smiling, laughing, joking, posing for pictures, giving interviews, etc.

It was an amazing experience that has now led me to sit here in the lobby and given me a chance to process my processing!

Tomorrow we have a meeting at 8 a.m. and hop on a bus to head up to Whistler for check-in at the Village, a track walk, and a press conference Ö hopefully this adrenaline high will keep my eyes opened for the next two days!

For Megan Sweeney, Opening Ceremonies can't arrive soon enough

Posted by Matt Pepin, Boston.com Staff February 8, 2010 09:29 AM

Luger Megan Sweeney, of Suffield, Conn., will provide insight and commentary in occasional blog posts for Boston.com throughout the Winter Olympics.

On Friday morning, I woke up before my alarm and my second thought after "I have to pay my credit card" was "It's officially one week." We were 7 days from opening ceremonies. Eleven years of building to this dream and now it's only days away.

I don't know how to feel about this, I don't know how to act. I'm obviously elated and living every moment, but even after a month of knowing that I'm heading to the Games, it still feels somewhat surreal.†The moment I'm walking with all of Team USA in the opening ceremonies I think is when it's going to feel real.†

In Torino, I was in the stands for opening ceremonies watching all the athletes walk in. I saw the absolute look of joy on their faces and in my stomach I had this glowing sensation that I now realize was my body physically reacting to jealousy. I wanted to be on that floor with the cameras in my face, the hat on my head, two of my best friends on each side of me ... I wanted it all, and right there I KNEW that I wasn't just saying I wanted to make the Olympics anymore. I really, truly, absolutely meant it. The hardest lesson I've learned since then is that things are easy to say and not necessarily so easy to do. But these are the Olympics we're talking about ... it's not meant to be easy.

Life is peculiar, and as my Mom says, "growing up SUCKS!" But I know that on Friday when I'm walking into opening ceremonies (totally rocking my Ralph Lauren outfit!), next to two of the best teammates and the rest of the USA's top athletes, my family watching in the crowd ... that's when the choices, lessons, trials and triumphs won't matter anymore because I've accomplished my life's biggest goal to date and I'm going to enjoy every last moment of it.

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