The Agony of Defeat & Gymnastics


Sorry about yesterday – I had a big blog written. When I went to save it it screwed up and deleted the entire thing. I was so mad!! So I ended up missing a day. I am on my last week here in Beijing which I am ok with. I will be ready to go home but not one of those situations where I am running out of here. One of the things that is most difficult is working my 14 hour day and then running back to the room to get in 3 hours of the US business day. Last night I was offered tickets to Gold Medal Diving and I couldn’t go because I had too many conference calls. But at the end of the day it is all good.

I don’t know why I thought of this but I did the other day. For those of us who grew up watching ABC’s Wide World of Sports – like how great was that show. Here is a story that we have all seen and yet so many of us probably don’t know the ending. This really gives you all what is like to be from a communist environment.

In the hierarchy of skiing accidents, there are spills, there are falls, and there are catastrophic wipeouts. “The agony of defeat” was definitely a catastrophic wipeout. For years, ABC’s “Wide World of Sports” showcased the crash during its introduction:
Spanning the globe to bring you the constant variety of sport! The thrill of victory…and the agony of defeat! The human drama of athletic competition! This is ABC’s Wide World of Sports!
The agonized athlete was a Slovene ski jumper by the name of Vinko Bogataj. A respected jumper and a fierce competitor, Bogataj’s fate took a turn for the worse at the World Ski Flying Championships in 1970. Midway through his third run, Bogataj felt he was going too fast and tried to slow down. Unfortunately, he lost his balance and tumbled spectacularly over the side of the ramp. Bogataj suffered only a concussion, though apparently he never again jumped with quite the same “abandon.” Understandable, if you ask us.
An interesting side note: Bogataj lived behind the Iron Curtain. As a result, he had no idea how infamous his crash had become in the United States. So it was with great confusion that he accepted an invitation to attend ABC’s “Wide World of Sports” anniversary show. Once there, he found himself hounded by fans (including Muhammad Ali) who wanted to shake hands with “the agony of defeat.” We call that a minor victory.

To give you another example of what life is like in a semi communist country. When the earthquake happened in China a couple of months ago the rest of the world knew about it before many Chinese. When CNN would broadcast the devastation to the rest of the world the TV screens in China would go black until the news story was over. If they can’t control the news then they are going to take it off for the length of that story.

Every morning I come down and do bar inventory with a young boy by the name of Colin. He is a sweet kid of 18 years old who speaks very little English but he can count with the best of them. When Colin does the bar inventory on his hotel sheet and he has to write the numbers in English not Mandarin. So if he doesn’t know how to write a number in English like 8 he will write down 6 + 2. It is really cute. It took me a week or so to figure out why he wasn’t writing the entire number. I have since taught him how to write the appropriate number. He also counts along with me in English so he can practice.

Last week gal from Atlanta was sick with a cold and the chef made her boiled Coke with Ginger. He said it is a very popular in China if someone is getting sick with anything. You can cut slices of Ginger boil Coke with it and then let it simmer for a couple of minutes. I didn’t believe the chef so I asked a couple of the local staff and they all confirmed it. Kool eh? Also I did give this concoction a little try and it was really good.

YEAH! They are finally putting the Chinese gymnast under investigation. This has been a subject of conversation non stop with the International staff. JD one of our photographers from the states came back after photographing her the first day of gymnastics and said there is no way she is 16. We have talked this to death and it will be interesting to see if anything is done about it. It is absolutely true that the IOC hasn’t challenged China on anything like this throughout so I will be stunned if anything happens with this investigation.

Speaking of gymnastics last night Coke did a reception for this last wave of VIP’s. This included a couple athlete appearances. Shawn Johnson came she is the gymnast who got the gold on the beam. When I tell you she is short I means very short. Wan said she is 4 foot 9inches. Plus she had heels on last night and her feet were hurting as you can tell she isn’t used to wearing them.

That is my story for now and I am sticking to it.


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