Email from Mike Beres

Saturday, August 9, 2008 10:06 AM

Hi everyone,

The last few days have been controlling the peak to our match. Thereís always a few snags and this time is no exception. For the Olympics, there are always advertising rules that are more strict than we are used to. For this reason, my normal gear is not acceptable. In the past, the whole team has had to wear Yonex and they provide a package that we use while playing our match. This time, Anna arranged to use Wilson and it was approved. Val and I tried to make the same thing happen with Black Knight and it proved to be a bit tricky. In the end, it worked, but not before I thought I would have to wear a pair of Yonex shoes. In a practice game I work them to break them in. I had asked for a light pair. The sole ended up having too little cushioning for me and I hurt or bruised the bottom of my foot. The physio. says I have a dropped metatarsal. Iíve done it before it the past but it was a while ago so I never considered that when getting the light shoes. In the end, Iím icing my foot and it seems like I have things under control. It just takes more time which is precious in this world. I have been given the ok to wear my shoes. All I had to do was rip off two logos from each shoe. I can play with beat up looking shoes.

We played the Kiwis (New Zealanders) yesterday before the Opening Ceremonies and so with all of that and the match 3 days away, it was time for a day off. We need to stay feeling fit and a day of rest was called for. Tomorrow we have to get hitting again so we keep our shots quick and steady.

The first day of the badminton is over. Anna was the only one of us to play today and she won. She played Eva Lee from the USA . I was thinking that she could have a close first game but that she would out work her in the second game. It turned out to be very close and Anna won 21-19 in the third game.

We had the Opening Ceremonies yesterday. It started out with a bit of stress for me. Earlier in the day, I went with Jean-Paul to the managerís meeting. When we came back at 11am, I left my camera at the security. I didnít notice I didnít have it until 6pm when it was time to take a group picture. There was even a point at our practice where I was mad at myself for leaving the camera in the room because I wanted to take pictures of the second hall. After lots of unproductive looking around the room for it, I figured out where it might be. When I came back from the security with the camera, I couldnít have had a bigger smile.

The Ceremonies were quite different from my other experiences. The buses to the gymnastics arena, where we always wait to parade in, was a very quick drive. It is very close to the village and the five minutes to get there had me thinking we werenít even out of the village yet. Once in the arena, we had a little grab bag of food and waited to be called out. There wasnít a video feed of the show this time so we didnít get to see anything before we went out there. I heard it was spectacular. When we were called out, we went outside and walked for some time to get up to the Birdís Nest. This is normal. It always takes a long time and it starts to feel like we are at the airport or something for how much we stand in line. It was a time to take a lot of pictures. We were outside and could see the aquatics bubble and the other buildings there. They had some neat towers with lights- maybe you saw them on TV?

When we made it into the stadium, it seemed much more subdued that normal. I was wondering if the crowd was more conservative, but as the night wore on, I started to think that in the middle, the sound didnít travel as much. The speeches were very hard to hear. We were able to talk amongst ourselves and be heard without even raising our voices. I seem to remember other times we were hoarse by the end of the night.

The walk around the track is always exciting. I was much less busy this time around as I wasnít looking for my family the whole time.

I took a lot of pictures. Once in the middle of the track, we stood while waiting for the other countries to parade in. It was hard to tell how long it would take as they werenít coming in alphabetically according to the Roman alphabet. As time went by, the heat started to take its toll. I was very thirsty, and finally had to sneak across the track to get some water and race back. I wanted to sit down to rest, but we had white pants on and when we came in, we stepped across a huge pad of paint and then marked our feet on this big canvas type thing. I didnít want to risk getting paint on my clothes but it sure was tempting to risk it.

The thing that is too bad is that we donít get to see the Opening Ceremonies because the athletes come in last. It is great to come in and feel the moment, but we see the show at the closing better. Having said that, the first step on the track is worth all the training in the world. The lighting of the torch is always a treat. One Olympic organizing committee always tries to outdo the last. It was neat to see him ďrunningĒ around the stadium, with the video clips of the torch relay following him. As a badminton player, it is always a source of excitement when a torch bearer is from our sport because we rarely get any recognition. Zang Jun was third from the last, I think. He won the last two Olympics in mixed and also gave me a sound beating at the World Champs. in Anaheim .

The night ended on a bad note. When we went back to the village, I noticed that I wasnít wearing my wedding ring. As I have lost weight, it gets looser on my finger to the point where I worry about it falling off when Iím washing my hands. I think that it must have fallen off sometime during the ceremonies while I was reaching into my pocket for my camera lens cap. It still makes my gut drop to think about it. It is lucky I donít believe in bad omens, but itís like one of those things where you look back and question your actions and wish you could have the time back to do something differently.

Tomorrow morning Andrew plays. Anna plays again in the evening. Go Canada go. With training starting up again, it will be a busy day.

(Click here to see pictures)

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