Saturday, September 20, 2008


J: Monday night I got a call from our friend Lee who had a couple extra tickets to the Gold Medal Wheelchair Rugby match. M and I had nothing to do, so we jumped at the chance. We'd been excited about going to the Paralympics and hadn't decided on an event yet. This sounded perfect.

You may know the sport by its more affectionate name: Murderball, which was popularized by the documentary that came out a few years ago. You can watch it online here. I have to confess, I'd heard about the movie when it came out, but never got around to seeing it. So M and I had some catching up to do after the match.

M: We were talking to our friend Matt a couple days before and he was telling us that in wheelchair rugby, the players ram into each other, toppling over and everything. What fun!

J: On our way to the venue, a crazy lightning storm descended upon us. After scurrying across the Beijing University of Science & Technology, we arrived soaked through. As we passed security, the rain let up enough for Marilyn to snap a picture of the Gymnasium:
The night started off with the Bronze medal match between Canada and Great Britain. Canada dominated the match with a much more physical and aggressive team.
This guy, who was seated near us, really came out in full force to support the Maple Leaf:
My favorite part? The fact that he has his Canada t-shirt tucked into his Canada boxers. Second favorite? During the US vs Australia match he started yelling, "Fifty-first state! Fifty-first state!"

M: When the US and Australian teams came out, the crowd was pretty energized. I think it's safe to say that all the non-Americans there were decidedly rooting for the Australians. I had this sad realization: I strongly dislike almost everything about USC, especially the way it presents itself as a sports franchise, but in the world of international sports, America is the global version of USC. Oh the pain.

There were these guys running around half naked with their chests painted, pounding little plastic cups of beer like their kidneys were going out of style. Not to mention the obnoxious rounds of "Meiguo jiayou!" (Chinese for "Go USA!") with their tones all off. Don't get me wrong, it was fun and all. I can just see why we are the nation the world loves to hate.
Of course, the real highlights of the match were the dancing Paralympics Cow balloons. (What?!) Yes, you heard me. The Paralympics mascot was a cute, multicolored cow that the committee chose to embody through human actors encased in giant cow-shaped balloons. Brilliant. Here they are working up the crowd:

They even did fancy breakdancing tricks, like spinning around on one "arm":
The best part was when one of the balloons sprang a leak, in the head (Josh: "Saw that one coming..."):
Here, a rapidly deflating Paralympics cow makes a hasty retreat, aided by his more able-bodied friends:

J: In all seriousness, though, it was a really inspiring night. I have tons of respect for all of these athletes--even more so having seen the movie and heard some of their stories. As jaded as we might have been by some of the fans, we were still proud of Team USA taking back the gold.

Thanks, Lee, for hooking it up!


Shellcomber said...

Hahaha, that's a great shot of the deflating cow. And I bet the photographer in the corner got a good close-up with his big white lens.

Vicky said...

haha, awesome pictures! the one of the deflating cow made me laugh :)