Thursday, August 21, 2008

Still In China

Hello Again,

I know I haven't written in a few days, but for some reason I was having some trouble getting on the blog website.

Well the tournament did not end up the way I had hoped it would, but that is how it goes sometimes. I am definitely feeling a little better now. I only get that sick feeling in my stomach about 5 times a day when I think about the match with the Armenian. I don't know why things happen the way they do, but I do believe everything happens for a reason. I don't regret anything I have done in preparation for the games. I couldn't have done more. And I am a better wrestler now than I was last year when I was 2nd in the world. I guess realizing that is the hardest right now. But that is sport, and I know I will have tougher times in life than this.

The one thing I am so thankful for is my support. My teammates, coaches and training squad are second to none. They are great friends, and we are like a family. From when we won the worlds last year, to every win or loss along the way, the ups and downs, we have stuck together, and we enjoyed every second of it.

My family and friends have sacrificed so much, and I am forever indebted to them. They are such an inspiration to me, and I have never had to look far to find it. I have recieved so many emails and letters of encouragment. Thank you so much. I may not have achieved all my goals, but because of their support, I honestly and truely from the bottom of my heart believed that I could have.

Lastly, thank you to Howells and all of Nebraska. If I had not grown up there, I wouldn't be half the man I am today. I almost lost it, when I read the aticle in the Washington Post a few days after I competed. I hope you all had a great time at the Howells Fab shop. I wish I could have done a little better and made you stay up a little later. Because of the traits I learned and was exposed to growing up in a small town, I was able to go this far. You are an inspiration to me.

Monday, August 11, 2008

Keith ate what?

Today is the last time I will write until I am finished wrestling. I finally had a chance to catch up with my family. Bank of America has a huge hospitality building where the families of the Olympians can go and hang out. You can run into a lot of other Olympians there, and they had a full buffet. They even had a Nintendo WI with the Olympic Games for people to play. Everyone got a nice gift bag, and we had lunch by a lake. It was fun to catch up and hear their stories. Of course, it always revolved around the food. Candace has traveled a lot and has no trouble with the food, and Lori is in Chinese food Heaven. Keith loves eating donkey, but not Rhonda. Mom and dad are pretty experienced and know how to make it look good when they aren't enjoying some of the more interesting dishes. They all got ice cream today and that made them pretty happy. I am sure everyone in Howells will hear some pretty interesting stories when they get back.

The weather was very mild today as it rained cats and dogs yesterday. My family went to the Great Wall yesterday and got completely soaked. Today they got rain jackets in the gift bag! Guess that's how it goes. They are having a great time and are going to watch beach volleyball tonight. That should be a lot of fun. I heard it is like a huge party and one of the US women's teams plays tonight.

We had our first guy weigh in today, Spenser Mango(55 kg). The tourney kicks off tomorrow, and it's starting to get intense around here. We are all very excited, but the older guys are doing a great job of staying calm and that reflects to everyone else. We are all very supportive of each other, but it is hard when you can't go to the tourney to support your teammates. But we all understand, and we all do our job. Professional!

Thanks again for all the emails and comments I have been getting. They are extremely motivating. I really enjoy them.


Saturday, August 9, 2008

Down Time

Hey everybody,

We have not been very busy the last few days. On Friday the team did Opening Ceremonies, which I declined to do. I know, it would have been great to march with the team, but sometimes you have to make sacrifices to get what you want. The guys said it was a great and sweaty time. Everyone lost about 20 lbs and got home at about 2 a.m. My roommate Adam Wheeler completely soaked his sport coat and pants. I was sleeping at about 11 p.m. Then the fireworks woke me up so I watched them for about a half an hour. I swear that I have never seen a show even remotely close to the fireworks display they had for that night. Fireworks alone, had to be in the millions of dollars. China definitely has some stuff you can't buy in Missouri or South Dakota, unless you tie two sticks of dynamite together.

My parents got off the plane at 4 in the afternoon and went straight to the Opening Ceremonies. They said it was very nice, but I could tell they were exhausted and my mom said she felt like she was in a sauna for four hours.....Now she kind of knows what I will feel like the next few days when I am making weight....I wouldn't want to put anyone through that. Yes, Rose Marie, even though so kind, is very tough. Just ask my nephews. lol Gotcha boys!

I did take advantage of the peace in the village though and realized that many athletes do not participate in the event. As I sat next to the artificial stream they have built between the hi rises of the village, I remembered all the times I had been in that situation, "alone". In the summer of '96 at Butch Mehl's pond before we left for Fargo, in '00 in a corn field North of Lincoln before I left for St Louis and in '03 before I left for the US Nationals I sat alone on the Platte River in Eleven Mile canyon and watched the sun set. Those times are special for me because I found peace of mind before I had to compete.

Yesterday I spent the day in bed to let my body and mind recover, so I will be ready to cut some weight. Last night I watched the girls volleyball win over Japan, and then hit the hay.

Today I went to church again, this time with John Bardis and coach Fraser. One of the ushers remembered me from last week, and I got to read the First Reading. John did the Second Reading. Pretty cool. After church we got some coffee, and now I am going to head over to Beijing Normal University where we train. Last practice on the mat before I compete.


PS Thanks again for the comments. Really been a ton of inspiration. Hope everyone is well!

Thursday, August 7, 2008

The Great Wall

I'm back,

Yesterday we went to the Great Wall, and no I am not talking about Rulon Gardner. About 50 of us went in total and the group included Big Ru, some Sports Illustrated staff, NBC and the New York Times. We walked up a huge hill and got on a ski lift that took us to the top. The actual structure is majestic. It is hard to believe they were able to build this thing 1500 years ago. We took pictures and walked around for a while. If you want to look, SI did a great story on their website they had some pics.

We decided to bring the unconventional way down. We hiked about 25 minutes to the southeast on the wall and rode down these little slide trolleys. Dremiel Byers, our heavyweight, was cussing my name because the trek crossed two mountain peaks, and I told him it would only take about 5 minutes to get there. Wow those Crocs he was wearing took a beating. He said he wasn't going to talk to me for two days as punishment.(Peace, finally. LOL) But he broke that commitment about 10 minutes later when he was yelling at me when he was trying to catch me on the trolley. Man those things really moved and for some reason his was fast.(May have been the 25 extra kilos his trolley carried.) WOOOO

On the way home we listened to Rulon and Coach Fraser share some stories. Got the whole bus shaking a few times with laughter.

The training has been very good. We are getting into our taper, and I will only be on the mat once more, tomorrow. After that, it is time to get skinny. I was only 6 kilos over this morning after the wall hike yesterday and feeling very good. Our team is excited for opening ceremonies tonight. Supposed to be incredible. I think you will like the outfits.

My family gets in today, and I hope to see them tomorrow. My parents are leaving for Opening Ceremonies right off the plane. Hope they got some sleep. I am sure they will be ready to roll.

PS Love the comments everyone is leaving! Thank you.

Wednesday, August 6, 2008

More Stuff

Hey everybody,

The last couple of days have been quite a bit of fun. We had our press conference(which you can check out on the us olympic team website), we have had some great practices and we have seen and met some very cool and interesting people.

The press conference was pretty interesting. I guess the conferences before us weren't very good and were kind of boring, so our media people told us to have fun and make it interesting. Wow. They picked the wrong group of guys to tell that to. All in all we did a really nice job and the reporters seemed to have some fun with us. We have got some "hams" on this team. I'll let you all check it out.

Yesterday I got a haircut in the village before I went to practice. Crazy, they have a huge salon for free right there for all the athletes. Don't worry, I didn't get a manicure or anything like that, but the Chinese girl really wanted to shave my beard....Sorry! Need that thing for one more week.

I have met a lot of cool people on the trip so far. Most notably was probably Roger Federer(Swiss Tennis player). About 20 reporters around him. Has to be a nightmare. But I have mostly been staying on the down low. I mostly hang out with the team and our coaches. But occasionally I eat dinner at the cafeteria with some of the Volleyball girls(Of course I know them all because of Candace. Thanks babe.) and some other randoms. One morning I had coffee with coaches Fraser and Antonelli and our team leader John Bardis. John gave us about an hour lecture on economics, history, Wall Street, faith and life, and it was worth more than 2 semesters at any college. He is truly a great man and role model, and when he talks, I listen. The guy is brilliant.

Well, I hope this finds everyone well and in good health. I am very excited and my practices have been satisfying........I feel very good and calm

Sunday, August 3, 2008

The Village

Hey everyone,

Team USA is a definite force here in China already as we hit the ground. Right off the plane we had people greeting us and media swarming everyone like you wouldn't believe. The Beijing airport is the largest building under one roof in the world, so it took us forever to get just to baggage claim. Once we got our luggage, we got on the bus and headed for the village. It was about a 45 minute drive, but we had a chance to see the city a little bit and some of the venues. Most notable, the birds nest(Where opening ceremonies and Track and Field take place) is one of the most amazing stadiums I have ever seen. The Chinese are ready for this and Beijing looks very nice.

It had just rained in the morning the day we arrived, so we had sun in the afternoon, and it wasn't crazy hot. The next day though was one of the hottest days(with humidity) I have experienced in a long time. TC and Byers wanted to hop from building to building and not go outside. Almost every building has AC and when you walk in it is very refreshing, but after a while you start feeling hot again. TC says, "Its fake air conditioning, it feels good then it goes away. They got fake AC!"

Our rooms are very nice. We have a suite with 3 bedrooms for 6 guys. Adam Wheeler and myself grabbed the big room with its own bathroom right off the bat. I don't know if the other guys even know we have our own bathroom. Definitely going to keep that a secret as long as possible. Don't want Byers using that thing in the morning, after he just ate McDonalds all day the day before. And yes, there is a McDonalds in the dining hall. And yes I will stay away until after I make weight and wrestle. But they do have the best coffee.

A lot of athletes are here already from all over the world, so you see their flags flying high on each one of their buildings. There is a great sense of pride, and world unity here with all the athletes. So much respect and people are very friendly. I went to Mass on Sunday morning in the worship center(They have a multicultural worship center with services for Buddhists, Christians, Roman Catholics and Muslims. As far as I saw. Pretty cool.) and was with people from all over the world. Very powerful.

Well I gotta go. Heading over for practice. Feeling very good now after some rest.(Not going to be good for Piasecki.)


Thursday, July 31, 2008

San Jose

Sorry about the San Jose post being blank for a few days. But now we can fix it. San Jose was great. The weather was very nice, and the drive from San Francisco was beautiful. Right off the plane we were greeted by USOC people and from here on out you are sheep getting on a truck. (Well maybe a little better. ) We met up with our Team leader Jon Bardis and drove to San Jose St. When we got there we got checked in and grabbed some lunch before processing.

Processing is when we take a bunch of pictures, do security stuff, get our gear and wait a lot. We pretty much had to try everything on, and it took a very long time. Nike and Ralph Lauren really hooked us up. Much more quality stuff compared to Athens. Wait til you see the opening ceremony git up. It is going to be a very sharp but sweaty occasion.

Later that night we went to eat at Mortons Steak house with Jon. They took care of us, and it was nice to get a good piece of meat before we head over to China.

The next morning we had some briefing about what's going on in China, the village, media, all the good stuff. Then we had a 2 hour ambassador program with Brandi Chastain (Soccer player on SI cover). She did a nice job and seemed very down to earth with her explanations of everything. Very nice person with a lot of credentials. It was very motivating and everyone got a chance ask some questions and interact. We have been here with the women's volleyball team, women's gymnastics, badminton, some track and field and some medical staff. Everyone is very friendly, and you can see a lot of fire in the athlete's eyes. Very relaxed and calm, but very sharp at the same time. Professional!

Now we head to China on the 1st, and I'll tell you about the village and the trip when I get there.