Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Detroit Hall of Famer at the Beijing Olympics

Wendy's at the Beijing Olympics! A few weeks ago, I told you about my sister, Wendy Hilliard Mensah, a former Rhythmic Gymnastics Champion--she was inducted into the USA Gymnastics Hall of Fame in June 2008. Well, she left last Saturday for the 2nd week of the Games, and as promised, has sent pictures and an eye-witness report! Wendy, a graduate of Cass Technical High School Class of '78, has participated in and/or attended every Olympic Games since 1984, and as you can see, she seems to know EVERYBODY! Enjoy!

From Wendy's Report...

The Beijing Olympics have not disappointed me at all.

The venues are spectacular along with the competition and overall
organization. Coming in at the second week of the Games helps because they have
had the chance to get all of the kinks out. Most folks are pretty tired at
this point- but not me!

The good news is I have a good hotel close to the Olympic Green, event
tickets, a credential, AND I have had the opportunity to see a lot of my
folks that I usually see at the Olympics over the years.

Don’t worry – I will not reveal any of the competition results just in case they have not been
shown on NBC yet!

My contacts have really come through. Ron Galimore from USA Gymnastics got me tickets for 2 days of artistic gymnastics. Greg Harney, formerly of the USOC and now with Cartan Sports Global, got me tickets for diving, wrestling and 2 days of rhythmic gymnastics. Table Tennis was not avavaible- but hey, that is the national sport here. I turned down weightlifting, because I did not have the time. Chris Sullivan, USOC, (I worked with him at NYC2012) totally hooked me up with a credential for USA House.

The USA House is the USOC hospitality compound. All the food, drink, live TV feed (real time competition) and a huge staff that helps with anything one needs. This has allowed me to hook
up with everyone in a relaxed atmosphere. Leland Stein, a reporter from Detroit, got me a two day pass for the MPC (Main Press Center). He got some help from Daryl Seibel, the main press officer
from the USOC. The MPC for the international print media. It is a huge complex. This came in very helpful because I was able to use this pass to get into the press section at Track and Field. I was very close to the action and I had the opportunity to get feedback from the 1996 French
Olympic 400 meter champion, Marie- José Pérec. Today I had a fabulous Peking Duck lunch with Bill’s friend in Beijing, Bing Wang. Yummy! I gave Bing my other track ticket and he enjoyed the event- he said it had been 30 years since he had attended a live track event. Thanks to Brenda L. who hooked me up with Maxine Griffith who had the great track tickets.

I literally bump into folks I know on the streets of Beijing along with the venues. Here are a few of the names many of you know -- Charlie Battle, Donna de Varona, Janet Evans, Michelle Kwan, Shep Goldberg (her agent), Anna Liukin (Nastias’ Mom), ½ of the Men’s Gymnastics team, Jim Sheer – USOC CEO, Steve Penny- USAG CEO, George Nissan (inventor of the trampoline- 94 years young), Evie Dennis, Renaldo Nehemiah (T&F legend and agent), Raj Bhavsars’
parents and many more.

Other notes—

Gymnastics Event Finals --I had the chance to sit with Anna when her daughter Nastia was going for gold on the uneven bars. I competed with Anna – she was a great GREAT – world champion. I later hired her to coach at one of my camps in the mid 90’s. She usually does not watch Nastia compete - but she said she could handle one event. She was moving along with every swing
and coaching her from the stands. Of course she was disappointed that she did not win. I think she should have! She was such a Mom as Nastia was getting her silver medal though - it was very sweet. Nastia has been incredible!

The Chinese National Anthem - I have heard that so much during these games - Wow.
In gymnastics, sometimes I do not think it was right- but they did have the home court advantage. It was a bit disappointing during the event finals- because that is usually where several other countries have the opportunity to shine.

Getting around- usually the subway is the way to go during an Olympics, but the taxis are so affordable I can’t resist. The trick is to have the directions written in Chinese and then hope for the best. So far – so good.

Food - except for the Peking Duck – nothing to write home about.

Shopping- I haven’t had the time- but I know it is there! The Li Ning store is very cool.

Skype – online telephone- this is the next best thing to sliced bread. It cost about a quarter to call home for 15 minutes.

Chinese TV- it is great to be able to see all of the action although I can’t understand what they are saying- but that’s Olympic TV.

I am going to bed –

Good night

Wendy with Raj's Parents

a Beijing Subway Car

Wendy at the Beijing Gymnastics venue
Wendy inside the "Bird's Nest"

Wendy with the Men's Gymnastic Team at the USA House

The Li Ning Store

Shameless Plug: please read my husband's blog The "D" Spot...

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