Tuesday, 19 August 2008

aug 20, 2008

i keep meaning to post pictures and videos from the last few weeks. my competition is over but it seems like i am still busy. sarah was here with me until yesterday and we went to the great wall. we also went and watched track several times. i saw bolt break the 100m world record which was pretty fun. sarah enjoyed the woman's 10k which to most people is like watching paint dry but to a distance runner is great fun. we also went shopping at silk road which is a big bazaar in which you can bargain for almost anything. my house will now be a little more full. last night i went to 'bud' house - imagine red carpet entrance, free beer and many ladies in great shape most of whom had too much free beer. michael phelps had a section blocked off for his friends. evander hollyfield was there as well. a good time was had by most.  i took a cab back to the village with 2 brits. one was chris hoy [sp?] who won 3 gold medals in track cycling and the other was a journalist who wrote a book on british cycling. apparently the guy is writing a new chapter for a special edition related to the 2008 olympics and he promised to mention our cab ride which was quite interesting - we were driving around beijing at 4 am and the taxi was going very slow. it also stopped to ask every other cab how to get to the village. you gotta love it when the cabie doesn't know where to go.

the olympic village is an interesting place. when we got here most people were a little nervous about their upcoming competition. then people compete and virtually all of them are disappointed with the outcome. only a very small percentage of people win olympic gold. someone pointed out to me that the olympics are about losing and i think he was correct. most athletes here are disappointed and trying to figure out how it was that they dedicated their lives to becoming great in their sport with the culmination being a loss at the olympics followed by obscurity [ and maybe mounting debt] at home. some will over time realize that the process of becoming an olympian is the valuable part - the lessons learned and obstacles overcome being much more important over time than the official result. this process may take some time and many will feel depressed that participation in the olympics - rather than the journey - didn't change their life.

Thursday, 14 August 2008

aug 15, 2008

many of you saw my match yesterday with hungary which i lost. he was a tough guy to draw first match - he is really good but not quite good enough to make the final. losing to a guy like this meant the end of my competition as i was eliminated. the match felt like a war. i was ramming him with my body as hard as i could and he was hitting back a little harder. i tried headbutting him - which i did repeatedly and as hard as possible. it didn't slow him down much but the right side of my head is one big bruise and my right eye is almost swollen shut today. it is a funny color as well. i will try and post a picture of it soon. thanks to everyone who made comments on the blog - i enjoyed reading them. today i watched swimming at the water cube in the morning. i saw phelps win his 6th gold medal and it looked like he didn't even need to try very hard. the sky was blue and the sun was shining in the afternoon so i spent some time at the pool taking in the sights. tonight i will go to the bird's nest to watch track with sarah and elana. after that we may sample some chinese beer at a local hotspot murray wants to check out.

my plan is to retire from competitive wrestling now but at dinner last night clive was trying to talk me into sticking around for commonwealth games in 2010. i don't think i will make that decision for a little while. i have been thinking about what to do now - wrestling has filled the extra space in my life for so many years [the parts not taken up with work and kids].  i think i may plan a bike trip for next summer which will keep me motiviated to continue training while i am on a sarah imposed house arrest for the next few months. i think she will tire of having me around too much and invite me to begin training for something again - at least i hope so.

Tuesday, 12 August 2008

aug 13, 2008

i get to compete in the olympics tomorrow which i think is pretty cool. you can probably find my draw online at www.fila-wrestling.com. i haven't looked so i don't know who i compete against first. the fila website will also have all matches but you will need to pay $5 to watch for one day. cbc said they may televise my first match live in their prime time show on aug 13 in calgary. apparently that is when their feature story about me will also run. they spent a lot of time getting footage so it will be interesting to see which parts they use.

i like getting comments on my blog. thanks to all who wrote in. for a while it seemed like i was writing to myself.

i will be at canada house having a beer with sarah, elana and murray tomorrow night. i can already taste it - seems like forever since i got to have a few drinks. i may have a bit too much in order to compensate for past abstinence. spectating on aug 15 may not be that fun but i will try. perhaps the beer stands on every corner will help.

Sunday, 10 August 2008

aug 11, 2008

today was my last day of training before my competition. tomorrow is a rest day and aug 13 i weigh in. sarah and my sister arrive in china tomorrow. the weather was great today. it was relatively cool and it felt amazing after the serious heat and humidity of the last 10 days. the greco competition begins tomorrow for the light guys. i will go and watch for a little while to see how the referees are interpreting the rules - this seems to change from tournament to tournament. the way they call the clinch is really important because it will determine how much each guy can cheat [and thus not get launched]. i am also interested to see if they will award points for passivity. this hasn't been done at a high level competition for a few years, however my opponent was awarded points for this at a tournament in italy this summer. a referee can pretty much determine who wins a close match if they make this call.

Thursday, 7 August 2008

One Week To Go!!!!

With just one more week of training left until Ari's Olympic debut, training has never looked better!  After a very intense training session today Ari still had enough energy left to be jumping around between practice matches while his training partner was left exhausted and gasping for breath.  With the concerns of heat, humidity, and pollution affecting athletes' ability to catch their breath, Ari has shown no signs of of hinderence.  This is an excellent advantage to Ari because when push comes to shove (literally in Ari's case) the one with the most gas left in his gas tank will be the one to prevail in a match.  WIth an active recovery and opening ceromonies on schedule for tomorrow evening, Ari is getting ready to compete with the best in the world!

Wednesday, 6 August 2008

aug 7, 2008

weather continues to be hot and very humid. training was really good today. i wrestled full out with egypt in the standing position and with him on top of me. my shoulder felt really good. the only thing i am not doing yet is my gut wrench. i did some with a dummy today and it didn't hurt so maybe i will try some on a real person on saturday. tomorrow i will do a short workout in the gym in the morning. opening ceremonies are tomorrow night.

Tuesday, 5 August 2008

article on ari written by a reuters journalist

RTRS-Olympics-Wrestling-Taub proves the power of persistence       By Alan Baldwin
        BEIJING, Aug 6 (Reuters) - A less determined man than Ari Taub might have felt he was destined never to become an Olympic athlete.
    The Canadian super-heavyweight Greco-Roman wrestler has suffered more blocks and body blows outside the ring than in it over the past two decades.
       A first time Olympian at an age when most wrestlers have retired, the 37-year-old's presence in Beijing marks him out as the embodiment of the ideal that the taking part matters as much as the winning.
    In 1992, Taub qualified for the Barcelona Olympics as the youngest member of Canada's freestyle team.
    "Then one of the other guys threatened to sue the federation and they ended up giving him a wrestle-off, which I proceeded to lose a couple of weeks before the Olympics," the Calgary lawyer told Reuters at the athletes' village on Wednesday.
    "I had already gotten all my stuff and the letter from the prime minister saying congratulations. So I didn't go to '92."
    The following year Taub was diagnosed with a neck injury and told that he risked ending up as a quadriplegic if he continued wrestling. So he quit, went to law school and started a family.
    That might have been the end of it, particularly when he found himself grappling with chronic fatigue.
    After "lying in bed for a couple of years", his thoughts turned to coaching. And then came the revelation.
    "I went to the doctor to see if I was going to become a quad(riplegic) by coaching and the guy did an MRI (scan) and laughed at me and said 'you're good to go.'" His injury had been misdiagnosed all along.
        Others might have cursed the lost decade. Taub, who admitted he had been "a little disappointed", recognised a blessing in disguise.  He had a qualification, a family and renewed hope.
        But still there were obstacles to overcome.
        By 2004 he won the national Olympic trials as Canadian Greco-Roman number one only to be told he was ineligible for the Athens Games because he lacked international matches. Another four-year wait became inevitable.
        After all that, the qualification for Beijing was an anti-climax. He secured his place simply by stepping on the scales at the Pan American championships.
        "I've said all along it's really more about the journey than the actual event," he declared on Wednesday. "I'm happy that I'm here, but I'm really happy about all the steps I've taken to get here, the choices I've made in my life. 
        "The Olympics aren't important. Someone could take the Olympics away from me today and say 'Sorry, you don't get to compete.'
        "But they can't take away the last 20 years. They can't take away all the obstacles that I've overcome, all of the times where I've had the opportunity to work harder and overcome or say 'I just can't do it, sorry.'
        "I've had so many of those opportunities to say I'm not sure I can do it...but I've been able to say 'Okay, I think this is right for me, this is what I'm going to do.
        "I actually believe now that I can go home to the rest of my life and implement those principles and be successful. It's closure. My wife will be very happy that it is."
    (For more stories visit our multimedia website "Road to Beijing" at http://www.reuters.com/news/sports/2008olympics; and see our blog at http://blogs.reuters.com/china)
Alan Baldwin
Motor Racing Correspondent

Thomson Reuters

Phone: +44 020 7542 7933
Mobile: 07990 560 466


aug 6, 2008

i have so many pictures and videos to post but the internet is hard to use here. china has blocked sites and the connection is really slow. also, it is amazing how little spare time i have here. the village is huge and we walk everywhere. anyone who knows me well will know how much that thrills me. my shirt is soaked 10 steps out the door each morning. it doesn't dry for the rest of the day because it is so humid. the air conditioning in my room is amazing but the bed still feels damp every day. people here live in a perpetual state of dampness.

murray brought portable speakers for my ipod which i carry around the village with me. it creates quite a stir especially from the chinese volunteers who go bug eyed. they really like it but my act of defiance/individuality is quite shocking for them. i might have a tough time conforming to chinese norms.

wrestling practice yesterday was great. i wrestled standing with bulgaria and we went at each other 100%. my shoulder felt good. i also had the romanian freestyle guy try and turn me. he couldn't do it and my shoulder felt strong. tomorrow i get to do 2 matches unless slavi thinks better of it at the last minute.

the village is filling up and my favorite place, other than my air conditioned room, is the outdoor pool. it is always busy and it seems that everyone is trying to see who can wear the smallest bathing suit. the guys wear these things that don't really cover the top of their bum. the girls wear things that are even smaller. i will get pictures and post them as soon as i can.

Sunday, 3 August 2008

aug 4, 2008 part 2

i actually wrote the last post a few days ago but didn't get it posted. my shoulder is feeling a little better today. i may get to do some stuff on the mat today. i still can't use the muscles for a 100% contraction so i can't do any of my offence while standing or on the ground. i will be happy if i can get back the feel of pushing on my feet a little bit this morning. murray got here last night. he didn't have his accreditation when he landed and it took him 4 hours to get from the airport to the village. he was a little tired last night. however, as usual for him, he has already explored more of the village than i have. by tonight he will know it all like the back of his hand. then to the rest of beijing - he may not have enough time for that. apparently it takes 90 minutes to get to the city center via subway from the village. being stuffed in a subway like a sardine in this heat would be like torture. i may try and find a better way to go explore there.

the village is interesting because it is like going to the zoo where you see all kinds of strange sizes and shapes. the athletes are all exceptional in some way. some are huge. some are really skinny and really tall. the female gymnasts are so short they almost look like midgets yet some of them are quite packed. a few of the american girls have legs that wouldn't be out of place on a large male wrestler. i asked how they got like that and the american trainer said they were dropped on their head as babies and as such were immune to the pain of training 15 hours per days since they were 3.

the australian female rowers are all around 6 feet tall, blond and look like models who spend their days training instead of trying on clothes. they are easy on the eyes. they also make up the largest part of the austrailian team which is over 400 athletes. i think this is almost twice as much as canada sent. there is apparently something to be said for putting  effort into developing summer sport athletes.

aug 4, 2008

We traveled to china on Thursday. The plane ride was good. We all got to sit in the big boy seats. It was the first time slavi was in the lie flat seats and he said he slept for 8 of the 11.5 hours from Vancouver to china. The seats are small for me so I didn't sleep much but I was comfortable and well fed and watered. I also watched 3 movies. A good time was had by all. Beijing was interesting to see from the air. There are virtually no cars on the roads and the smog is going away quickly. The trip from the airport to the village was very efficient. We had our own bus and our own lane to drive in. There are guards everywhere whose sole purpose it seems is to make sure we have everything we need and nobody gets in our way. There must be more Olympic volunteers then athletes which is saying a lot as I think there are 16,000 athletes. The facilities in the village are great. Food  - any and every kind you want including mcdonalds for those who want to indulge. The workout facility in the village is better than anything I have ever seen in Canada.


This morning we went to the practice facility. There are 14 mats each with their own throwing dummies. We had 3 or 4 volunteers who showed us where to go and made sure we had everything we needed. They brought drinks and snacks. They asked if we wanted the air conditioning turned up or down.


The North American media has been making a big deal of many supposed problems with these games. From what I can see these games will be amazing. It is clear that china has done everything it can to make everything perfect. There is no shortage of humanity in this country and it seems they have all been mobalized to help in the Olympic effort.


The smog problem - what smog problem? The sky is clear blue, not a cloud in the sky. You can see some smog if you look straight ahead instead of up. However, this is true of most big cities. My guess is the smog will decrease as the opening ceremonies get closer.


It is hot here. I think today is 34. However, people talk about something called the humidex [sp?] index. It is apparently 44 which is supposed to be the heat when you take into account the humididty as well.