Bird's Nest-ing

Date: 2008-10-19 By jamon919

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The magnificent bird’s nest stadium loomed into view as the cab sped into the central Olympic cluster comprising of the national stadium, the national aquatics centre, a few other smaller Olympic venues and the enormous Olympic green park. Yet, as soon as the magnificent stadium made its entrance on the horizon, it pretty much just stayed there. So near yet so far. Wondering what slowed the traffic to a crawl, I craned my neck out of the window and tried to look for any bottleneck that might be the cause.


Nothing! Absolutely nothing was in view except endless lines of cars and one empty lane; the Olympic lane. Totally frustrated with the slugging traffic, I paid my fare and continued the journey on foot. Further down, I finally saw the cause of the slow traffic. There was a gigantic security gantry and many different groups of people milling around. Sensing another interesting encounter, I edged closer. Looking on from the side, I soon found out there was no one particular reason for the traffic hold-up. There were cars without Olympic passes, bikers with passes but no vehicle passes and countless other such security issues. Another kind of incidents were those of cultural differences. There were Germans who could not make out what in the world was required of them and Brazilians who animatedly tried to make their point, but to no avail. Eventually they simply sat by the side of the road, waiting for translators to arrive.


After speaking to some of the foreigners, I was sure I was of no help, and thus proceeded to the Olympic Green. As I entered the Olympic Green, I was shocked. The roads were unbelievably clean! A green scenery greeted me as I stood there, taking in the beautiful color contrast of the flowers and fresh air. Never in Beijing have I experienced such flawless greenery and cleanliness. The cities frequently presented a bleak front with dying trees; grass wasn’t even a common feature!


“What a change! ” I thought to myself as I prepared myself for more surprises ahead.


I walked into the Bird’s nest stadium, and it was sheer grandeur. Pausing for a moment at the gates, I marveled at the magnificent interior of the iconic stadium. Thousands of spectators were pouring through every opening into the stadium, with the Olympic torch burning brightly against the skyline, it made for a wonderful moment, complete with Olympians warming up in the pitch below for what would go down as one of the greatest nights in Olympic history.


I took my seat and patiently waited for the day’s program to begin. Many events were held, the more notable ones being 3000m steeplechase, 110m hurdles, discus, pole vault and long jump. Throughout the night, there were numerous highs and lows, including award presentation ceremonies which deserve a more detailed mention. At the first award ceremony of the night, the stadium was called upon to stand for the national anthem of Jamaica. The rhythmic and melodious anthem filled the stadium, and at the far side, 3 flags, with Jamaica at the top, was hoisted up steadily.


“What a proud moment for the athlete! ” I wondered as I pictured myself standing on the stands with my country’s flag rising and my national anthem played for the world.


“Wow. ”  I thought as I snapped out of the fantasy and back into reality, almost tearing as I fully immersed myself in the atmosphere.However, as the twelfth medal ceremony came, I could barely drag myself up and there were only cold tears of boredom. At this juncture, I looked around me and I was totally amazed to see spectators asleep! Moreover, there was not only one, but quite a handful of them!



“Sleeping at the Olympics!” I thought to myself, aghast at such unacceptable behavior.


Most of the events came and went without much buzz or excitement as most of the athletics events were only heats. The discus event, although the final, broke no records and excited few people. The results were appalling too, with the gold medalist almost 10 m away from the World record. A poor all-round performance from the women’s discus throwers. In the 3000m steeplechase, the crowd finally came to life. Usually, the crowd would only cheer with passion if a Chinese athlete took the stage. However, in this case, a South American athlete was falling behind due to a fall at one of the obstacles. Although he lagged behind, support for him did not. The whole stadium was rooting for him! Every section of the stadium he crossed, applause and encouragement was generously dished out, for all 3000m of the race. True Olympic spirit could really be felt in the air.


Yet, it was the pole vault event that captured took the limelight. It was the women’s finals. Yelena Isinbayeva, the Russian pole-vaulter, had just won the gold medal at a height of 4.95metres. Alas, it wasn’t over. She wanted to challenge the world record, and took the challenge of 5.05m. She picked up her pole, began her run as the entire stadium paused and held their breath. A piece of history was in the making, and nobody wanted to miss anything. As she propelled herself upwards, I could feel the tension in the stadium rising like steam! The crowd strained their necks and eyes at the distant, tiny pole vault station at the end of the stadium. Their excitement could barely be contained, as they waited with bated breath, ready to erupt.


“Up and over!” cried the commentator.


It erupted. Screams, cries and voices joined forces in the greatest roar ever, shaking the stadium with the Olympic spirit. The roar almost threatened to bring the stadium down, as Yelena crumbled in a heap, reveling in the absolute delight of having made history. Everyone cheered, be it Chinese, American or African. We all cheered like we were one. One world, one dream, one great Olympics.


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