Tuesday, August 26, 2008


Alas, the end is here, my last day on the job. It began by showing up to the Nest at 10 a.m. to cover the football final. (I'm not in the U.S. It's football.) As it turns out, the football staff didn't need me or any of the other athletics volunteers to help. Our head supervisor, Emily, told me and whoever wanted to stay to find seats and just enjoy the game. That's exactly what I did. A few of us went to the ONS seats in the press tribune only to get kicked out. So we went to the stands up top behind one of the goals and the view was still pretty good. The gold medal match between Argentina and Nigeria kicked off and we sat back and enjoyed. 

The scene wasn't overly exciting, but there were pockets of hardcore fans. There was a Nigerian section of musicians who played drums and trumpets for seemingly the entire match. Fenn, Jamie and I are all well-established trombonists of course, so we were feeling the groove. I even thought about going over there to join in the fun. None of us went over there, yet we still found a way to upgrade at half time. 

Justin and Jamie found some empty seats in the upper section of the press tribune. It was certainly closer to the action and meant not having to get up every 10 minutes for a new fan to sit down. We all sat there the rest of the match and watched Argentina score a great breakaway goal. It was one-on-one and that never spells good news for the goalie. Nigeria had its fair share of chances in the second half but couldn't get the ball in the net. The game ended 1-0 and Argentina took home the gold. 

There were seven medal events tonight. That's a lot for a video FQR to handle. I didn't have that job so I was able to breathe easier, though it would have been cool. Sandie had the microphone for the session and handled herself like a champ. Nicely done. I, on the other hand, was assigned to cover the Men's 800m and Women's 4 x 400m Final in the regular mixed zone. It went smoothly. I got my quotes and frankly now I'm tired. So that'll be all. It was a good run. I had a blast and am honored to have been a part of it. Maybe I'll post one more time with a wrap up of some sort. Thanks for reading. Feel free to contact me about anything. Saijian.


It was my last day as video FQR and I had six medal events to work with. There were the Women's Long Jump, Men's Pole Vault, Women's 5000m, Women's 4 x 100m Relay, Men's 4 x 100m Relay, and Men's Decathlon Finals. It's not like they finish one after another with time in between events. No, remember a track event can happen at the same time as a field event and more than one track event usually takes place before a field event wraps up. Also with finals, there can be medal ceremonies and hordes of broadcast media that interfere with timing. 

Before the first medal event--Women's Long Jump--was even done, I saw Carolina Kluft coming through the mixed zone. She did not jump far enough in her first three attempts to continue. This was a big deal because Kluft was the reigning Olympic heptathlon gold medalist. She decided to skip that event this Olympics to focus specifically on events like the long jump. I knew she was bummed, but I had to interview her because she's still a popular name. 

First, I asked her if she was still satisfied with her event decision. Her answer, "Yes." I asked why, she said, "Why not?" I returned with, "Well, because you had more success last time with the heptathlon. What was the difference?" Then she gave the detailed response I needed. I had to push for the answer not once, but twice. Kluft probably would have dumbfounded me if it was my first time dealing with that. Sometimes athletes just don't want to tell you why they failed to reach their goals. Can you blame them?

Maureen Higa Maggi ended up winning the gold with her first jump of 7.04m. Tatyana Lebedeva had one last chance with her final jump, but came just a centimeter short. Maggi was excited afterward, but her reaction couldn't compare to the story of bronze medalist Blessing Okagbare. Initially, Okagbare had only the 13th longest jump of the semi-finals, 6.59m, leaving her just short of advancing. But the next day she had a second chance when Liudmila Blonska tested positive for drugs. 

Okagbare's first jump of the finals took her an amazing 6.91m, blowing away her high from the semis and topping her career personal best of 6.70m. That jump carried her through the rest of the final round, securing Nigeria's first medal of Beijing 2008. She kept calling it a miracle and thanking God. It was beautiful. That was one of the best feel-good stories of the Olympics for me. 

Some of the other athletes came and went in a messy scrambled heap. It was crazy for the relays because the start lists didn't come out until about a half hour before the races, so I needed someone to bring me them while I was stuck at my position. People were nice about it, though, and it helped a lot. 

Toward the end of the night, there were only two events left. There was the decathlon, which Brian Clay had in the bag from the start, and there was the Men's Pole Vault, which had an awesome finish. First, let me give you my favorite line Clay said when I interviewed him. "Michael Phelps has got nothing on me." (pause) "Just kidding!" Not only was that hilarious, but the quote sparked debates in the Boston Globe, the Houston Chronicle and the Sarasota Herald-Tribune.

Back to the pole vault, it was between Evgeny Lukyanenko and Steve Hooker for the gold. The real action started when they separated themselves from the pack as the only two to clear 5.80m. Then both guys missed their first two attempts at 5.85m. Lukyanenko cleared the bar on his third try, leaving it up to Hooker to equal the task. He went up with the pole, and he did it. Time for 5.90m. Again, both missed their first two tries, but this time Lukyanenko failed to clear it on his final attempt. Hooker needed this to secure the gold. Otherwise it would go to the Russian because he cleared 5.80m on one try while Hooker did it in three. Coming through in the clutch, Hooker was able to clear 5.90. He celebrated for a while before realizing he had the chance to break the Olympic record, which was 5.95m. Sure enough, he set the bar for 5.96m. He didn't clear the first try, went over the time limit on the second and built up enough energy to clear it on try number three and set the record. That was a good win for the Australians, including most of the paid staff in the ONS office.

Monday, August 25, 2008


Remember that time I mentioned there were three types of Flash Quote Reporting? Probably not if you didn't read that post, which I don't blame you for. But if you did, you know I was broadcast FQR my first day at Athletics and video FQR each day since. Well I finally got thrown into the print mixed zone this time. It's the section after the broadcast and video area with more journalists and less athletes wanting to talk by that point. Depending on the importance of the athlete and event, I had to either squeeze in to hear athletes answer other journalists' questions or find the athletes and interview them myself while taking the quotes down. That's pretty much what I did the first week at basketball anyway. 

There were a good amount of events today. I started with the Women's 1500m Round 1. That was easy enough. The real fun started when I had to get quotes from the Women's Javelin Gold Medalist Barbora Spotakova. I found the Czech reporters and introduced myself, asking if one of them could translate what Spotakova said for me. The guy was fine with it. Sure enough after the interview, my new professional acquaintance told me Spotakova's quotes in English as I wrote them down. 

It turns out that some other papers were interested in what the Gold medalist had to say. I found 21 results on google of news sites using one of the lines I gathered, "I usually win with my first throw. I've never won with my last attempt; this is the first time." This site used the quote as it's headline. Yahoo! Sports used some of the quotes here

Next I had to follow the Men's Decathalon. They were the last to finish, so I had some time to hang around the ONS office. After sitting around for a little bit, I went to help out in the broadcast mixed zone before I had to go back inside. The main man I had to follow for quotes was Jeremy Wariner, who just finished with the silver medal in the Men's 400m after running out of gas in the final stretch. No one could get him to talk because he stormed past the reporters. When the BBC Radio reporter persisted, Wariner told her that NBC had asked a question that pissed him off. (I didn't see this happen, so I'm not sure if what he claimed was true.) He even temporarily escaped the final half of the mixed zone by stepping out the wrong way to talk to his manager. The poor volunteer working the area had to show this angry athlete back to correct pathway. 

At this point, I couldn't get anything from Wariner, so I went back to the print mixed zone and waited for the decathletes to finish for the night. I talked with the Boston Globe's Bob Ryan for a short bit. Apparently he already knew about the group of Emersonians at the Bird's Nest. I talked to a few other journalists too. Suddenly we saw Wariner coming back through the mixed zone with his manager. I was still waiting for some decathletes to come by, but it wasn't the final event and I knew we didn't have Wariner yet. So I decided to get in the crowd who would ask him a few questions. I was able to get some good stuff, but not a whole lot. 

One of my supervisors, Michelle aka Cookie, came right over to me after the scrum and literally pulled me toward the back of the mixed zone where there was no one else. She called out for Wariner and his manager to hold for moment. He actually stopped and let me ask a couple of follow-up questions. Later Cookie told me she's met Wariner a few times. (He remembered her well enough to friend her on facebook.) India's national newspaper picked up some of the quotes here. And yes, I still managed to interview a decathlete. I don't know why, but I like that word. Decathlete. Okay, Saijian..

Thursday, August 21, 2008


There was something different about my camera setup today. No one was there, at least when I got there at the start of the events. Not to worry, though. A new trusty camera op rolled in just in time, a young Chinese camera op. Her English name was Rae. She was a little nervous at first, but I assured her that she'd be great. I helped keep the excitement level up. It wasn't too hard with the Men's 200m Final, Women's 400m Hurdles Final and Women's Hammer Throw Final on schedule, plus a couple of other first rounders. 

Let's get to the race Usain Bolt is actually known for, shall we? I don't think the swagger has slipped off Bolt since the 100m Final. He walked onto the track acting all cool and showing off for the camera. He just knew he had it. And sure enough he did have it, in record time. Bolt took the 200m Gold in 19.30 seconds. Churandy Martina finshed second and Wallace Spearmon was third. The three of them embraced and danced around each other with their respective flags on their backs. Little did two of them know that they would never receive the medals they thought they earned. 

The 200m turned out to be the most controversial race at National Stadium. The medal ceremony was supposed to happen right after the race, but there were some details to sort out first. Spearmon was immediately disqualified for taking at least three steps outside of his lane. He rushed through the mixed zone right after finding out. Unfortunately for Martina, he went through the entire mixed zone still thinking he had the silver. All the reporters did too, including me. He was so happy when I interviewed him, showing that distinct gold-toothed smile. We just had no idea. That's because his ultimate fate hadn't been determined yet. 

The officials didn't notice anything wrong with Martina's run at first. It took a USA team protest for a review to change the results. The U.S. guys knew what they were doing. Not only did a successful knock out of Martina push Shawn Crawford from initially fourth place to a silver medal, but it also pushed Walter Dix from fifth to a bronze. I interviewed Crawford when he unofficially had third place after Spearmon's DQ. He said he wasn't happy because he wished he simply ran fast enough to get a medal on his own. (Much later after hearing of Martina's DQ, he joked,"I hope Usain stepped out, too. That would mean I'll go home with the gold.")

Finally Bolt came through with his world record performance not needing any medal placement shuffling. I made sure to get more than one stupid question in this time. So I secured my positioning and cleared my throat. When he got to my area of swarming journalists, I got the first question out. I asked him which world record he was more proud of, the 100m or 200m. His response, "I've been saying all season that the 200 means a lot more to me than the 100 meters," said Bolt. "This world record means a lot to me because I've been dreaming of this since I was yea high. Here's where the Boston Globe put it. 

Next I asked him about how he made it look so easy. His response, "Did that look easy?" I said, "Yeah." He asked again, "That looked easy?" I fired right back with a smile, "Yeah, you sure made it look easy." He said, "No, that wasn't easy. I felt like I was swimming, and I just kept telling myself 'don't die, don't die'. That wasn't easy. I left everything on the track." Here's where Reuters India put it. I let another reporter ask the next question and then got one more in before he moved on to the next crowd. (I plan to go back and put links to more published quotes I've gathered when I have time.)
Bolt passing through the mixed zone

As a side note for the Women's Hammer Throw Final, the bronze medalist, Zhang Wenxiu, was Chinese. So when she came through and didn't speak English, I happened to have a Chinese camera woman on hand to translate for me. The one time I get a Chinese medalist, I had Rae right there to help me get the quotes we needed. One of my supervisors afterward looked at me weird because he just heard the Chinese from the video feed. I told him where the credit was due. Good teamwork, Rae. 


It was a chill shift. There were no medal events, just two track qualifiers and two field qualifiers. I got to hang out at the video FQR station again. It's cool my supervisors feel comfortable putting me there consistently at least. I got to just hang out and watch the events on the screen. There were only a few athletes to talk to because most of them don't stop for me until the later rounds. Tomorrow definitely will be a memorable one. I've got three medal events at the video FQR spot, including Usain Bolt's attempt at another gold medal and world record.

Wednesday, August 20, 2008


I got back home around 4:30 a.m. after the Club Bud party. Guess what time I had to leave for work. The shuttle bus was scheduled for 6:10 a.m. I was the only champ who had the morning shift and went out. It's fine though. I can sleep on the plane ride home. The best part was that I wasn't on the schedule for video FQR, but sure enough I was on the white board for it when I got to work. It turned out to be well worth it. 

On tap for the morning was the Men's 110m Hurdles Round 1, Liu Xiang's first race of the Olympics. His quest for glory began here, in the final heat of the morning. At least it was supposed to. As the hurdlers got ready on their blocks, my cameraman, Lee, noticed that Liu didn't look too comfortable. Sure enough, the false start by Marcel Van Der Westen was all it took for Liu to walk away from 91,000+ open-jawed spectators. I was one of them. Liu was the face of the Olympics for China. It didn't matter that it already had the most gold medals. China was counting on him more than anyone. 

This was truly the biggest collapse of a national hero the 2008 Beijing Olympic Games could have experienced. Honestly, I don't even think a Michael Phelps downfall could compare from  where I was standing. The Bird's Nest was drowning in China's tears. Suddenly, BOOM! The gun went off again. The race had to happen, even without Liu, and it did.

All 7 athletes who raced in the heat qualified for the next round, either based on place or time. I spoke with Van Der Westen after the race and asked him what the atmosphere in the crowd was like before the second gun went off. I don't have the quote in front of me, though he pretty much said, "I've never been on drugs before, but it must have felt like a trip to experience that." That quote sums it up.

Monday, August 18, 2008


There was no work today. So I'll just move straight to the fun part. Some of my friends and I got into an exclusive party at Club Bud. It felt like a red carpet event without much of the media because some were inside. Certain accreditation passes meant a ticket for the "Water Party." Otherwise your name had to be on the list. That list included most notably the athletes who were done competing and wanted to celebrate. It was a water party, therefore most of the athletes there were the swimmers and rowers who have already finished their events, along with a few others who are done. (No, I didn't see Phelps.) 

One guy my friends and I spoke with for a while was Christian Cantwell, the men's shot put silver medalist. He talked with the girls while I mostly chatted with his agent, who also happens to represent Joey Harrison of the Pittsburgh Steelers. He said he once went to a Steelers black and gold bar in Boston but couldn't remember where exactly. I'd like to find out about that. (I'm a Pats fan first, but also like the Steelers.) Michael Johnson's former agent was around there too. Another random notable I spotted at the party was Evander Holyfield. So that was cool. We'll definitely try to go back there again. 


(Okay, so it's obvious to me now that I no longer have the time or energy to give you essay-long details, but I'll do my best to continue sharing the excitement.) My second of three roles began today. I was ONS's Video FQR. That means I'm one extra step behind the broadcast mixed zone, but still closer than the print mixed zone. The cool part is I get my own set up complete with a camera and camera operator. The coolest part is now I get to ask the questions. I don't even have to scramble to write the quotes down either. 

My first day as Video FQR included the men's 100m semi-final and final events, the most popular of them all. The big surprise of the semi-final was Tyson Gay not qualifying. I knew he'd be a tough grab. I saw him come down the steps of the broadcast mixed zone, defeat in his eyes. I tried to get his attention but he didn't immediately respond. After he took a couple of steps past me, I offered my condolences and again asked the Razorback (he went to Arkansas) for a word in a polite manner. The college reference and calming tone got him to turn around and stop for me. I asked him about his rough start from the blocks and how he feels about the upcoming 4 x 100m relay. Pretty much he said there were no good excuses for the race and he still felt confident in his team for the relay.

The men's final was later that night. We all know what happened there. Usain Bolt destroyed the field with ease while setting a new world record. He was the last guy through the mixed zone with a long time passing between him and the others. The largest group of journalists I've ever seen was crowded about 15 feet from me, while I had just one reporter to each side of me. Still we had to share the interview with Usain as he passed. I was able to get one question in and held out the microphone for the other questions. My neighboring reporters and I helped each other out and it worked fine. The excitement of preserving the words of such an historic triumph made working with the others an easy decision.

Here are the other athletes I interviewed this evening...
Men's 100m: Richard Thompson (silver) and Walter Dix (bronze). By the way the college reference worked on Dix too.
Women's Shot Put: Valerie Vili (gold)
Women's 800m: Maria Mutola, Pamela Jelimo and Janeth Jepkosgei Busienei
Men's Long Jump: Andrew Howe
Women's 100m: Muna Lee, Debbie Ferguson, Lauryn Williams and Torri Edwards
Men's 400m Hurdles: Angelo Taylor, Bershawn Jackson and Kerron Clement


Welcome to the Bird's Nest, home of track and field. My job there is a little different than at basketball, mainly because I'll be covering the actual events. Today I was in the broadcast mixed-zone. That's the front line. It's where all the major broadcast networks are set up and who the athletes have to pass through first. In this area, I have to weave my way around the cables and cameras to listen in on interviews, not to mention the reporters and cameramen and sometimes field producers. I write what the athletes say and run the quotes back to the copy takers along with the contexts. Then the best quotes are put on INFO. We have them on the database within 10 minutes of the words coming out of the athletes' mouths. 

It's fairly difficult to get within hearing distance while staying out of the broadcasters' way. They have mixed reactions to me being there, but I have to do my job just like they do. One of the ONS staff, Joel, led the craziness that was directing flash quote traffic. He told me and the three other FQRs where to place ourselves and who to interview. From there we do the best that we can. It was a total rush moving through the broadcast jungle to gather the best quotes possible and get them back to the copy takers. 

Thursday, August 14, 2008


"This is no time for the weak of heart or the weary. This is the time for Olympians. Dead or alive, he'll be there.

That's my favorite quote thus far. Russian coach David Blatt said it in regards to whether his player Nikita Morgunov would suit up while sick. I'll give you the rest of my favorite gathered quotes from basketball later. First, let me wrap up my final day at Shougang. 

The rundown included the women from Australia, Mali and Belarus. Australia is one of the favorites and has some great talent. I was excited to talk to as many of the players as possible, especially because they're the only team we see that is from an English speaking country. Usually the first practice ends between 2:45 and 3 o'clock. But when 2:30 came around I started to hear the players come out of the gym. The venue workers neglected to inform us of the early finish. Crap, we didn't get the chance to talk to the players while they were still hanging out on the court sidelines. Anna and I had to rush out of our seats and grab the first player we could before they all left. I was able to interview Penny Taylor, who was nice, but the rest were gone when I finished with her. Anna spoke with another player too, so we did get enough quotes. I just really wanted to get in depth with the Australians. 

Next up was Mali. This was my second go around with them. The only difference this time was Hamchetou Maiga was out of the Olympics with an ankle injury. She was their star. Anna ended up speaking with coach Ruiz about the tough adjustment. She acknowledged she spoke a little Spanish but no French when he told us most of his players spoke French. Of course coach Ruiz speaks great Spanish, so Anna was stuck doing her interview in Spanish. She pulled it off, though it wasn't easy. Meanwhile I found a player who spoke English by the name of Kadiatou Kanoute. She was a little sick too, which makes me wonder how the foreign athletes are dealing with the food changes overall. I know my classmates and I all had our troubles at different points. The final bail of the day went to Belarus, which I called like a Babe Ruth homer. Congrats to them for avoiding us not once, but twice. So that meant we were done with Shougang. Thanks to Zhang Bo and all the other Chinese volunteers and workers. You helped make this a great week. Here's a picture of Zhang Bo, our top reinforcement Susy, and me.

Now for the rest of my favorite quotes...

"The way people play, the way people give themsleves to play basketball is different because it's professional." -Joaquim Gomes, Angola
"The fact that I'm a backup in the States does not mean that I'm not a leader too. Even the 12th man can be a leader." -Manu Ginobili, Argentina
"When you have a gold medal on your chest, you have the world's eyes on you." -Sergio "Oveja" Hernandez, Argentina coach
"She is the only great player on Mali. She is our Nowitzki." -Jose Valentin Ruiz, Mali coach
"We think too much. The players are afraid of mistakes. The coach asked us to enjoy more of the game. Don't be afraid to do mistakes." -Adriana Moises, Brazil
"Of course we worked on things in practice for Croatia. For us, it doesn't mean anything until game time." -Andre Kirilenko, Russia
"I'm not going to change anything. I got to bounce back and have a good game. I'll go 2 for 10 again as long as we get a win." -J.R. Holden, Russia
"This environment is a little different because you have 48 hours to lick your wounds and get ready for the next one." -David Blatt, Russia coach

Wednesday, August 13, 2008


It was getting close to leaving time at the CUC and I hadn't received an e-mail from Supervisor Alan. He usually sends me and the others basic talking points for the day, which I then research further. Anna realized this too, so she called Alan. He told her that we didn't have to come in for the first practice session because Iran wasn't generating enough interest. That gave us an extra two hours to spare to get ready for the Russian men. Remember, I wasn't able to interview former Bucknell guard J.R. Holden or Boston-bred head coach David Blatt last time. I wanted to make sure they didn't slip through my fingers again. I left Mr. Kirilenko to Anna this time. (foreshadow to a quick funny story about that)

We showed up to Shougang with our Chinese volunteer friends eagerly awaiting our arrival. Aside from seeing the players, Anna and I are their biggest forms of entertainment during work. (By the way, one of them took a picture of me interviewing Kirilenko. I put it up with day 3.) After receiving beautiful Chinese knots as gifts from them, I was ready to give back some Emerson pins. Of course I had to use the restroom first, and upon my return Anna had already given the pins out. She stole my thunder.

It's all right. I had to shift my focus to the task at hand. Get Holden. He turned me down last time and I'd be damned if he rejected me again. I made sure I got into the gym when practice ended so Holden already wouldn't be on his way out like last practice. I came around the barrier and there he was, stretching and chatting it up. When he finished, I got my positioning and put a smile on. As Holden came through, I said hey and reintroduced myself, this time including that I was originally from Worcester and was a fan of the Patriot League. (Holden went to Bucknell, whose conference rival is Holy Cross in Worcester.) That got his attention. I politely asked him to answer a couple of quick questions and he obliged. I told you I'd get him this time.

Now that I had Holden's mind on his college days, I had to ask him about the shift from playing conference rivals to Olympic rivals. He said there was no comparison but went into great detail about the locally legendary names and games he was around. I really had him excited to talk at this point. Now I could ask about his thoughts on the upcoming game and his performance the previous game. He gave some great quotes on both subjects. I could capture the emotion in his words, and that was key.

Meanwhile, Anna found another player who spoke English pretty well. When I asked who she spoke with, she said, "Andre Kriviyenko." I thought about it for a few seconds and then realized she interviewed Kirilenko without even realizing it. She blamed me for not pointing him out to her, but I just laughed. No worries, Anna. You're still awesome.

Soon after, coach Blatt walked through the hall and came right to me. I told one of the staff members I wanted to interview Blatt earlier, and he followed through on the request. The interesting part came when he asked to come sit with me at my table. By this point, Blatt knew I was from Massachusetts, so the local connection worked both times today. When he sat down he saw my book, Call of the Game by Gary Bender. He picked it up and asked,"Is that a good book?" Shocked he was showing interest in my reading material, I simply answered with a yes. 

Then we started chatting about the next game against Lithuania while Anna and I wrote down what he said. Blatt seemed genuinely interested to talk. I let him fill the short pauses because he wanted to and what he had to say was much more important. Then he told us what he told his team after the previous loss. I felt like I was right there in the locker room. Finally I asked him for an injury update, which has become routine after Oveja told me about Carlos Delfino's ankle. Blatt said Nikita Morgunov was sick and didn't practice. When I asked if Morgunov would play, Blatt let out the meat and potatoes answer, the one with all the heart and emotion that comes with being a part of the Olympics. Check back next time for the actual quote.. Saijian.

Tuesday, August 12, 2008


The flash quoting was held to a minimum today. I interviewed one of the women from the Czech Republic. She was all cute and nervous about speaking in English, but she did a great job. It was still a great day for other reasons. Earlier in the morning I received word that I won the 2008 RTNDF Lou and Carole Prato Sports Reporting Scholarship. This by far is one of the biggest honors I've ever received. To be acknowledged nationally by industry professionals is a thrill. So thanks to the Prato family and all who participated in the selection process. I've also got to shed some love on those who've helped me get to this stage because I couldn't have done it alone. I'm excited to see what new adventures are ahead of me. 

So that was a good way to start the day. After finishing with Czech Republic, I headed over to the Fengtai softball venue. Professor Paul Niwa had some extra tickets to games thanks to Emerson's Maureen Tripp who couldn't get to Beijing to use the ones she bought. Thanks, Maureen. Catie, Jess, Susy and I got to see a double-header. China v. Holland and Japan v. Australia. Both were great games, but the second one was especially exciting. That's all to report for now... Saijian.


It was back to the men's side today. Anna was out, so we brought in our top reinforcement, Susy from cycling. Team Russia was first on our list. That meant Andre Kirilenko. He's known as AK 47 to most basketball fans, Drago to Susy. I also had Bucknell's own J.R. Holden and Boston-bred head coach David Blatt on the wish list. Russia does pretty well with their Olympic imports overall. We didn't get to go in to the gym when practice ended this time, so Susy and I waited in the hallway/mixed zone. Some of the coaches strolled out first. I wasn't able to grab Blatt from Boston, but I did talk with assistant coach Daniel Gutt.

Then out came Andre. As soon as I saw him, I called out his name. I even tried to say it in a Russian accent. I hope he appreciated that. I'm sure you would have appreciated hearing it. Either way, he came straight over and I introduced myself and commenced the interview with trusty Susy by my side. He spoke English very well and seemed happy to chat. On his way out, he even stopped to pose for a picture with the eager Chinese volunteers. My buddy Zhang Bo had his camera today. 

The next round of players gradually came out and I spotted Holden. He's fairly easy to spot being the only black man on the team. Holden was on the phone but I really wanted to talk with him about playing in the Patriot League (Go Holy Cross!) and working his way up to the Olympics. Unfortunately he just wasn't having it. That's all right because we had enough quotes to turn in. Our manager only wants 3-4 quotes per team and reiterated that when I think I gave him two hands full of quotes the first day. 

The second team scheduled for the day was Spain. As they were practicing, a solid amount of reporters and cameramen walked in. It was clear they wanted Spain too. Now I've got competition. That's cool though because I kind of wanted the challenge. No one was going to stop me from talking with Jose Calderon, who was a major boost for my assists down the stretch of fantasy season. As for the Gasol brothers, I "assisted" Susy with what to ask either of them if she got the chance. 

This time when practice ended we got to go in to the gym. I think I'm just going to have to keep asking during every practice and just hope they let us in. It's a lot easier to interview athletes when they're not all packed up and ready to head out the door to the bus. So I approached Calderon when he came back to the sidelines and sat down. I was curious about the experience he gained at point guard and as a leader on the Raptors when T.J. Ford went down with a neck injury that was hard to return from. I got my best quote out of that answer because he was able to relate the experience he gained to helping Spain. Zhang Bo got pictures of me interviewing Calderon and I think Kirilenko too, so look out for that. 

Meanwhile Susy got a hold of Marc and asked him about "you" playing in the paint against "Yi" and "Yao." The alliteration was pretty funny. Pau was unavailable because the other media had priority, this time. We were done after that because the final team, Australia, turned out to be the bail of the day. Sorry, no Andrew Bogut. Oh well. Saijian.

Monday, August 11, 2008


One successful day of flash quoting down and I was feeling great. Anna and I headed back for our second day at Shougang, this time ready to to interview three women's teams. That's right, bring on the ladies. We got to the security checkpoint at the front of the stadium where we were supposed to pick up our new credentials. The ones at Shougang are day passes because our normal accreditation passes just apply to National Stadium. There was a different staff working this time around, so they didn't recognize us from the previous day. We tried to communicate who we were and showed our other creds. The process was not as expedited as I had hoped. A solid 15 minutes of gesturing and waiting passed while the guards talked on their two-ways before they let us in. That was extremely fun. (A bit of Ginobili-inspired sarcasm there.)

Mali was our first victim. They're led by WBNA player Hamchetou Maiga. So she was on the ONS's most wanted list for the afternoon. (Aren't you just loving my creative criminal writing style? I'm sure it's to die for.) Other than Maiga, I just wanted to find someone who spoke English. That'll probably be the case again because there aren't any translators provided for practices. I was able to speak with Jose Valentin Ruiz, Mali's coach. He gave some thoughts on the upcoming game against Croatia and on Maiga too. He called her Mali's "Nowitzki." Meanwhile Anna found Maiga aka Nowitzki while I talked to coach Ruiz. Nicely done. 

After calling in our quotes, we started to think of questions for the next team scheduled to practice, Belarus. I heard a weird noise on the court while we sat in the lounge area next door. It was silence. There were no shoes squeaking, no balls bouncing, nothing. Finally I asked one of the Chinese volunteers to investigate. He came back and reported that the Belarus team had cancelled their practice. They were the bail of the day. It was pouring outside, but I don't know if that had anything to do with it.

That left us with almost three and a half hours to kill until we could interview the Brazilian team. Good thing I had a book and iPod handy. That held my interest for about an hour. By this time it was 6 p.m. One of the volunteers by the name of Zhang Bo came up to me and asked if I was hungry. Let's just say Zhang Bo and I are good friends now. He led me to the food court area where the was a small snack area set up. He let me take a few small pastries to share with Anna. When I asked to have a couple of Powerades from the fridge, he said, "The drinks are for the athletes." (Of course. What was I thinking?) I guess it was nice enough for my new buddy to get me that much. Zhang and I chatted for a bit back at the BK Lounge, BK in this case for basketball. Hey, I just thought of that now. We'll see if it sticks--probably not. Anyway, Zhang told me about where he goes to school and what he studies. He's my age by the way. Also, we talked about the Celtics and other basketball related stuff. I found out that Shougang is where the Beijing Ducks play. Pretty cool. 

Back to Brazil, their practice ended around 7 p.m. and I walked into the gym with Anna to get our final quotes of the day. I was able to speak with Adriana Moises, one of the players who wonderfully speaks English. After finishing the flashing of quotes, we were ready to head out. The thunderstorms had yet to subside though. Thankfully, a couple of the workers at Shougang found two umbrellas for Anna and me to borrow for the trek back to our dorms at the Communication University of China. Props to those guys. And props to you for actually reading this. Saijian.

Saturday, August 9, 2008


My Emerson classmates and I have been here in China for 5 weeks. Today felt like the first real day of work. Finally, I got to interview some Olympic athletes. Today's rundown included covering the practices of the men's basketball teams from Angola, Argentina and China at the Beijing Shougang Basketball Center. Sweet, maybe I'd get to talk to Yao Ming. Or maybe the Chinese team would decide to cancel on us. Okay, that's fine. There was still Angola and Argentina. My Flash Quote Reporter mate, Anna, and I showed up to the practice venue just when the Angolan team started their practice. We were told it was closed to the media, so we hung out for almost two hours watching gymnastics and putting the final touches on our awesome questions. 

I had big plans to talk with Angola's top player, Joaquim Gomes. I saw his picture online and picked out key features to remember him by. He's really tall and has corn rows. Ready... go. Practice ended and I went into the gym with Anna. Scoping through the squad as the players did their final stretches, I spotted my guy, tall and head full of corn rows. But wait. Directly next to him was the only other player with virtually the same features. So I announced his name to help me identify him. "Joaquim!" I said. Both guys turned around. Of course one because he heard his name and the other out of curiosity. I had to ask the player I thought was right, "Are you Joaquim?" 

Confirmation and success. Whew. Now I could conduct the interview, except not because one of the coaches yelled at me to get off the court. (But they said practice was over!) Gomes turned to me and asked me to wait 5 minutes, which I did. After the team came together for a hands-in cheer, Gomes came straight back to me. I asked my first question relating to Angola's upcoming game against Germany. Gomes started to answer, and the pause button slapped me in the face again. This time another coach walked up to me and said, "What country you with, Germany?" I had to show him my creds and tell him I was with the Olympic News Service. He smiled, patted me on the back and walked away. From there the interview went well and I got some great quotes. (I plan to post links to articles I can find that use the quotes.) I tried to get the head coach afterward, but he spoke only Portuguese. Anna made a valiant effort, but it was too hard. Still she got quotes from other players and we called the ONS copy takers to enter our quotes into INFO, which is specially for the journalists covering Beijing 2008.

Next up, Argentina. Their practice was closed as well, which probably will be the case for all the teams. More time for Olympic events on TV and note reviewing. This time, I had my sights set on the NBA's 6th man of the year, Manu Ginobili. I came up with some questions specifically for him and some other ones for the head coach or another player. Anna had questions for Andres Nocioni and Luis Scola. When Argentina's practice ended, we walked back into the gym with our questions in hand. (I don't think I saw one other journalist in there, which is weird for a defending gold medal team. My friends at the other practice venue said there were a few for Spain.) 

I took one step around the barrier blocking the court and there was Ginobili, walking right toward me, or right toward the locker room. Whatever the case, I was in his way and took my shot at introducing myself. When I asked for an interview, Ginobili sighed, turned his head away, looked at me again and said, "I'd be thrilled." I assured Mr. Sarcasm that it would be quick, which it was. Then I asked Argentina's PR guy if I could talk with the coach, Sergio Hernandez, because he was already off the court. He told me to wait by the refreshment area, and to call the coach "Oveja," meaning "sheep." I guess it's like "Doc" for Glenn Rivers. Initially I wasn't sold on calling someone I'd never met a sheep. But when Ginobili walked by again, I asked him where Oveja was and he actually got him for me. (Thanks, Manu.) Soon Oveja came over to me and mostly talked about defending the gold medal. The final question I asked was about any injury updates, not really expecting anything. But I was wrong. 

Oveja told me Carlos Delfino sprained his ankle two days earlier during a practice game against Angola. He went into great detail about it and I was almost positive I had my quote of the day. I think I was the first journalist he told because I couldn't find it on the wire or the Web. I felt like I had broke my first story. I had new news. As FQRs we provide only quotes for the INFO system, so I'm interested in seeing when it will be released in an actual story. My guess and hope is that a reporter will follow up tomorrow. Keep an eye out. I'll post if I see a quote I gathered. 

Here's hoping the next week at Shougang will be half as adventurous. I'll be there every day until the 15th. Then it's back to the Bird's Nest for track & field.. Saijian.