Changing China

Giant on the move

A reporter’s day in the life

August 20, 2008

Gold medalMy mother back in the United States thinks I’m having a great time in Beijing. She envisions me casually dropping into see the swimming and the athletics, having a relaxed lunch, and then strolling over to the next venue to catch another big event in the evening. Let me give you a run through of one day I had near the start of the Games…

7:00 - Wake up too late for breakfast, rush through ablutions and run for bus. Clear airport-style security. Get on bus for 20-minute ride. Transfer to second bus for 40-minute ride to shooting venue.

8:30 - Arrive at shooting hungry and hunt out the bananas (very important, as there’s no other food).

9:30 – Shooting qualification going on. But am distracted and worried about whether the comms are going to work. Unfortunately I’m not good with computers.

10:45 – Women shooter from Georgia gets 4th in qualification, ahead of 80 others. Good chance for medal. Need to become instant expert on her.

11:00 – File quick story on Georgia shooter who in 8-shooter final against Russia woman. Wow, what a story!

12:00 – Finals start

12:20 – Georgian rises to bronze. Russian falls to silver. Call in bulletin to desk, send update story in 3 minutes, second update 2 minutes later. Notice the Georgian and Russian shaking hands, embracing and kissing on cheeks. Great stuff. Add that to next story.

12:25 - Run downstairs to ”mixed zone”. Just catch Georgian as she passes through for quick comment. Add to next story.

12:45 - Press conference. More great quotes from Georgian and Russian. Another quick story.

13:30 – Hungry again. Eat another two bananas and a few cookies.

15:00 - Trap shooting finals begin. It’s raining. Am under a roof in press tribune, but it was made to shield from the sun and it’s leaking badly. Rain blowing in from all sides. Climb back a row. It’s a bit drier here.

15:20 – Finals winding down but it’s raining harder. Have crawled under clear plastic canopy in semi-futile attempt to keep laptop dry. Helpful tech guy holds plastic over my head while I type and helps spot for me who’s shooting. File quick stories, rush back to press conference. Get quotes. Write story.

17:00 – Another hour on bus back to main press center in heavy rain. Send advance stuff to editors for next day. Get comms fix from extremely understanding techs.

18:00 – Call wife. She’s slightly annoyed I don’t call more often. Take 2 aspirin.

18:05 – First and last meal of day. Ham sandwich the only option. Oh well. Better than nothing.

18:30 – Jump on hour-long bus ride to basketball gymnasium for U.S.-China. Bus packed. Standing room only. Lots of people had garlic in their lunch.

20:30 – Find great seat near basketball court. Very loud. Headache back again and worse now.

22:15 – Basketball game starts. Bush sitting not far away. Lots of excitement. 18,000 people in here.

23:30 - File blog on the match. Pounding headache. Get on another packed bus, among lucky few to have seat but keep getting hit (hard) in head by metal equipment in bulky backpacks of the zillion photographers here.

00:30 - Back at main press center. Switch to another bus home. Puddles everywhere.

1:00 – Clear security and get into media village. Too tired to watch TV. Turn on iPod instead and soon fall asleep.

And you know, I wake up again at 7 and think: hey, my mother is right. I am having a great time here.

PHOTO: Brazil’s swimmer Cesar Cielo Filho, winner of the men’s 50m swimming freestyle at the Beijing 2008 Olympics, holds his gold medal in Sao Paulo August 19, 2008. REUTERS/Caetano Barreira/Foto Arena/Handout


*pat on the back* Soldier on Erik! Your efforts are not unrecognised. Good job!

Posted by Five Times | Report as abusive

I really have to salute you, Erik. Keep up the good work!

Posted by diana | Report as abusive

Thanks Diana. But there’s a lot more fun than agony, and to be honest, not every day is like that one particularly long one. I don’t think any of the 20,000 journalists here would rather be any place else.

Posted by Erik | Report as abusive

Hi Erik, Your mom forwarded your story to me and I really enjoyed it. You brought the Olympics to life for me. Hope your headache is better and you are now finding time to eat a real meal.

Posted by Merle (Gotch) | Report as abusive

Hi Merle. Headache’s gone, thanks. Running out of clean clothes though.

Posted by Erik Kirschbaum | Report as abusive

**smile** and you didnt call you wife enough times ;)

Posted by jigme chhmi | Report as abusive

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