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LET THE GAMES BEGIN!
A Recap of Our First Week in Athens
Greetings from Athens, to all of you stateside. I realize I have a little catching up to do and I am sorry about being delinquent in writing, but we are a little busy... we train and play every other day. Iím going to give yaíall a quick day-by-day update about how things have gone since weíve touched down.
Wednesday August 11th
After winning two preparation games in Salamanca, Spain, we finally arrived at the birthplace of the Olympics Games. As soon as we walked off the plane, we were greeted by the decorative Olympic rings everywhere. They proved to be an exciting reminder of why we were there. After all, it isnít every day that you step off the plane and get ready to compete for a gold medal!! Most of this day was about filling out paperwork, sitting in on informative meetings and getting organized for the next two weeks ahead.
Checking into the athleteís village was an exciting and unique experience. Food seems to be the universal bond that ties us together, as all the countries meet in the large dinning hall in search of anything that resembles what they would eat in their respective countries. My first impression was simply to be overwhelmed by it all. As you eat, you canít help but watch the different athletes in awe, wonderng what country they are from and try to guess what sport they might play.
This was simply a day to get acclimated. We had our first practice, a press conference and then a little time to try and unpack.
This proved to be a long, but eventful day. We practiced, bussed back to the village and got ready for opening ceremonies. As a first time Olympian, I must admit I was looking forward to this event. Of course, the womenís team was extremely excited and proud to have our three-time Olympian, Dawn Staley, carry the flag for the entire United States delegation. There was a lot of down time as they organized the countries to march in, which allowed us a chance to walk around and meet athletes from the United States and a number of other countries.
Let the Games begin!!! USA defeated New Zealand in our first Olympic competition. This proved to be a very physical game for us. It was exciting to finally get the games underway. There has been so much talk, planning and preparation that itís good to finally be in action.
Our schedule is set in a way that we play every other day, and the men play on the alternating off days. So today was a practice day, and then we were off to watch the menís opening game. There has been a lot of talk about how both the U.S. Menís and Womenís teams are favored to win the gold. This is great because they respect the talent and experience on our teams, but at the same time, a game/match/race isnít won by a pre-determined ranking. The most talented team doesnít always win, the fastest runner doesnít always come in first, and the number one ranked player doesnít win every match. Puerto Rico came in and played with everything they had, and on this night, appeared to be the better team. Every night is a battle because the stakes are high and the room for error is slim.
August 16th- 20th
I realize my entry is getting long, so Iím going to consolidate a few days. With each passing day, practice and game, our team has improved. After our victory over a very good Spanish team today, we are now 4-0 in our pool play with a remaining game vs. China on Sunday. Then the all-important single elimination quarterfinals begin in mid nxt-week.
I have to tell ya one quick story before I go. After arriving in the lockeroom, as we were putting on our shoes, Diana, our superstar rookie, pulls a true rookie move. She doesn't have one right sneaker, but actually has two!! Although I would probably still put my money on her jumper playing in two right shoes, it was good that someone was able to help her out before tip off! With the Olympics already almost half over, we are continuing to work towards our ultimate goal ---to bring home the Gold!!!
God bless you all,
Ruth Posted by Ruth Riley - Aug 20 2004 9:59PM
As a little girl, I grew up watching just about every sport in the Olympics. Every four years, I was awe-struck by these amazing athletes wearing a uniform that had the letters "U.S.A." emblazoned somewhere, competing against different athletes from around the world. I would smile when they smiled, I would cry when they cried and I would feel their nervousness as they waited for their scores or times to be posted. Although I never personally knew one of those athletes, I felt some sort of bond with them. They wore my colors: red, white, and blue. When they won, it was my flag that was raised and my anthem that was being played. Of course, I am extremely proud to be an American, but I have to believe that these are emotions that every person feels as they watch their respective county being represented.
No event in the world can parallel the Olympic games. It transcends everything else. Throughout the history of the Olympics, there have been conflicts and disputes around the world, political and social differences and even rebellions and wars. Yet, countries that don't see eye-to-eye at the bargaining table somehow all manage to put aside their differences for the simplistic beauty of sport. The athletes become ambassadors for their respective countries. Not only are they driven to succeed by their own ambitions, but they also carry the expectations of a nation.
Through all the patriotism and competition of the Olympics, humanity is never lost. Every athlete competing in the Games has a story. And while we will always roof for and encourage our fellow countrymen and women, we still find ourselves secretly hoping that the one long-distance runner from a country that we never heard of, who is the only representative of his/her nation at the Games, does well. We love the stories of how they got there. We love the beauty, the passion, the committment and the competitiveness that is being displayed. We take so much pride in those athletes who wear the colors of our nation. We love the fact that in every event, they show us that dreams do come true.
So to me, being named to the United States Olympic Team is the highest honor that I have ever received as an athlete. I take so much pride in that fact that the letters of the country I so proudly represent are written across my jersey.
God bless you all, for whether you are a basketball fan or not, we know you will be supporting us. And we will do our best to make you proud!!
Ruth Posted by Ruth Riley - Aug 10 2004 2:47PM
The Game at Radio City
Time: 7:00 p.m. ET
Title: WNBA All-Stars vs. USA Olympic Team
Where: Radio City Music Hall
Unlike most award-winning shows, this one was truly a once-in-a-lifetime event. In case you missed all the action, I'm going to give you the post-performance critique. In theater, you come to a show to be entertained and to see your favorite performers or favorite production displayed on stage. This event was no different. Fans from around the WNBA came to see their favorite players exhibit a great game of basketball in an atmosphere unlike any other in sports.
-Witnessing a historic event in not only the history of WNBA, but the history of sports in general
-Seeing some of the most talented basketball players in the world play on the stage of Radio City Music Hall
-Watching the only game the 2004 Olympic Team played in the United States
-Comfortable theater seats vs. arena seating
-Great family atmosphere with lots of entertainment during the breaks
-High-energy game, with lots of highlights
-It might have taken fans awhile to get accustomed to the theater seating
-The game did have quite a few turnovers, but that is to be expected in All-Star type games where players have little practice together prior to the event
-This was the one and only time the show was being put on
-The game was played with a men's size ball (what they will use in the Olympics), therefore some of the shots were a little off.
-There were limited tickets available (Radio City holds a little under 6,000)
Personally, I thought that playing in Radio City was a lot of fun. The atmosphere surrounding the game was different than any other sporting event I have ever been a part of. Once the game began, I didn't notice that I was playing on a stage because we were all so focused on the game at hand. For me, it was weird seeing Coach Bill, Laurie and Korie on the opposite sideline, and guarding Cheryl and Deanna as they were wearing Detroit Shock jerseys. Overall, it was a great send-off for the Olympic Team to play at home, in front of our fans, who we are so proud to go represent!!