After our regular morning practice, we could finally start getting ready for the big event. I was supposed to pack for Korea at the same time, but I was so excited I kept doing everything out of order. I would do half my makeup, then throw some stuff in a bag, then heat up the iron and wander around a bit. When we finally started putting on our actual O.C. outfits, we were running around giggling and taking pictures of each other. Then... we went outside and started to melt in our lined polyester pants, blazers and scarves. Oh, man! More on sweating later.
Next we all went to the Fencing stadium where George Bush gave us all a good luck speech and each team got to take a picture with him. He was, of course, very patriotic, and he also didn't seem to mind shaking 500 peoples' hands in a row! The other celebrities in the room were the professional basketball players. They were also really cool about taking thousands of pictures. The amount of diamonds they were wearing was out of control!
After that we met with all the other athletes from other countries in the National Indoor stadium. Everyone was pretty amped and kept trying to start The Wave. They only showed us little clips of what was going on before we walked out, but it looked awesome. Finally, they called us and as we walked towards the Bird's Nest there were designated men in white with red scarves that lined the walkway and clapped the entire time! As we got closer there were mobs of locals yelling Nihao and Welcome to Beijing! Oh yeah, and Kobe, Kobe, Kobe! Right before we entered the stadium, everyone in our group started chanting U S A, U S A! It was incredible, and then we burst out onto the track for our lap around of waving. We waved extra enthusiastically in the direction of anyone waving an American flag, and there were relatively a lot.
While we listened to the cermonial speeches, we were overcome with the layers of polyester and had to diassemble some of our wardrobe. Some of the poor guys were walking around in completely wet shirts, and us girls weren't too far behind. I have honestly never sweat more in my life and probably never will! When they lit the torch, though, I didn't even remember that it was humid. I just stood there with my jaw on the arena floor and then burst into tears! It was so dramatic and beautiful, and with the spirit of the athletes and the Games all combined, it was truly overwhelming. I don't think I will ever forget that moment!
Andrea Nott is a freelance contributor for teamusa.org. This blog was not subject to the approval of the United States Olympic Committee or any National Governing Bodies.