Friday, 26 August 2011

2011 Summer Universiade in Shenzhen, China

There are probably a bunch of typo's but there's no chance I'm looking it over, so f off. If I remember other stuff I'll add it in. Enjoy

The Flight:
Flight over wasn’t too bad. We flew El Al coach direct to Hong Kong, about 10 hours I think. Plane was packed with Chinese people... No idea what they were all doing in Israel. I had a middle seat but the guy in the aisle switched with me so that was legit. It was a huge plan so everyone got their own personal tv that had different movies playing... most of them were crap though. Our team was spread throughout the plane so we’d just wander around a bunch to shoot the shit with different people. Our coach had an exit row seat, bastard. When we landed we had to bus from Hong Kong to Shenzhen and go through a number of customs/visa things. So it took more than two hours before we got to the village.

The Opening Ceremonies:
Opening ceremonies were pretty sweet, even though it was a crazy long day and really tiring. I think we got together at like 4pm and headed to our bus. Buses were divided by country and eventually we left and drove like 45 minutes away to this crazy arena/stadium thing where it was being held. There was alot of waiting around while the countries got organized in the ride order and made our way through the maze of the inside of the stadium. Eventually we made it to the 'entrance ramp' as it were and slowly waited for the announcer to get to the 'I' countries. Walking into the packed stadium was a pretty crazy feeling. They had volunteers dancing everywhere as you walked in and cheering you on. After everyone was in the stadium the different aspects of the show started. They had to light the Universiade torch, some speeches were made by the FISU president (the international federation of university sports, i think), and some other people. They also had to raise the FISU flag up. In between all the official stuff there were a number of dancing/musical acts performed by mostly Chinese, but with volunteers of different races as well. It was a pretty tiring day but a very interesting experience. Some people didn't go to it even... They didn't want to have to sit around as much as we did. Some athletes had been to a real Olympic games already so I guess they figured this opening ceremony couldn't top that. Anyways it was an interesting experience and we had fun.

The Village:
The athletes village was pretty cool... A ‘gated community’ on the outskirts of Shenzhen. I think there were 6 or 7 dorm/hotel buildings, 17 floors I think, like 24ish rooms on a floor, and 3 athletes to a room. I think there were around 7,500 athletes in all at the games from like 150 countries, as well as all the coaches, managers, and other delegation heads and people like that. Lots of different stuff going on around.  They had a conditioning/weight room as well as a swimming pool. Also had a small supermarket, official universiade gift shop, bank, and an electronics store. A little bit into the village there was also a stage where they had organized shows every night at 8pm. Sometimes there was music, sometimes dance acts, etc.

One sweet perk of the village was the laundry service. Everyone had two laundry bags in their rooms and could just take their clothes down anytime to get them cleaned. Because I didn’t know they would have this I brought approximately 18 times too much clothing, but whatever.

They also had a shuttle system of these golf cart type vehicles but with more seats. They were constantly driving around the whole village, stopping at every stop along the way and picking up/dropping people off. The village was pretty big so it was convenient sometimes... and also very funny.

My two roommates were a guard, Gal Eytan, and a big guy, Samer Jassar. Gal plays at Hapo'el Tel-Aviv in Israel's second division, and Samer plays at Baker University in the states. He was able to get out of army service and go to college in the states because he's an Arab. For security reasons, the Israeli army doesn't allow Arabs to serve to try and prevent security/information leaks. Anyways they're both good guys and we had a lot of laughs throughout the trip.

Food wasn’t bad in the village... Although I was missing hummus pretty bad (as were all the israeli’s). They had two cafeteria/food court places. One of them was open 24/7, I think mostly because it was Ramadan so all the Muslim athletes and coaches could only eat late at night and early in the morning. They even had a McDonalds in the food court.  Felt like being back in college. Teams eating together at long tables and bussing their trays after. They also had fridges with bottles of water, OJ, coke, and sprite. They had these fridges all over the village too, but those only had water. There must have been hundreds of thousands of water bottles drunken (drank) at the games. Some of the guys on the team had a fieeeeeeld day on the desserts haha. Guys were loving the cookies/little cakes. All in all the food was pretty good but I’m glad to be back in Israel... went grocery shopping the morning after I got home.

Didn’t eat any authentic Chinese food when we left the village. The only thing we ate on our trips into town were Pizza Hut once and KFC once haha.

When we got there we had 2 days of practices before the games started, and we also had shootarounds during the morning of a couple game days.  Most of the gym’s were pretty far away from the village, like 30-45 min so that sucked. The gym’s we practiced in were really nice, but the gym’s we played games in were beautiful. Great feeling getting ready for a game in a really nice arena... just feels right. The best gym was this one stadium near the athletes village where the top seeds got to play always. So in our group the U.S. got to play there all the time. It seated around 19,000 and when we played the States it must have had around 14,000 people or something. Nothing like playing in front of a crowd like that.

Long story short we went 3-5 and came 14th out of 24 teams. We beat Hungary, South Korea, and Australia. Lost to Finland, Mexico, USA, Ukraine, and Brazil. For the most part I didn’t play... for unknown reasons. The only game I really got to play in was against the U.S. and I had a pretty good game. So it was pretty frustrating. Whatever, moving on and looking forward to the season.

In other basketball news, USA got beat by Lithuania (shoutout roony) in the quarterfinals and ended up in 5th place I think.  Canada beat Lithuania in the semi’s (suck it roony) and eventually lost to Serbia in the gold medal game. Everyone was pretty surprised Canada made it that far (me included). They had all CIS players on the team which is pretty cool, but also seemed pretty weird considering there are a bunch of guys playing NCAA basketball that were eligible for the team. And yes, I’m perpetually bitter at Canada Basketball for not loving me.

Celebrity Status:
Apparently the Chinese people we encountered hadn’t seen the box scores from our games, because they were treating me like a superstar. Honestly wherever we went Chinese people wanted to take pictures with me. And once I took one then everyone around saw their opportunity and started to try and get a picture. I must have taken over a hundred pictures with people at games, practices, but mostly when we had free time to walk around in Shenzhen. One man picked up his young daughter and made me hold her for a picture... she just started bawling. I kept trying to put her down but her dad was like “no no, up” and trying to get her to smile. It was very awkward.  Anyway VIP statuzzzz.

Our only real trips outside of the village (aside from games and practices) was to go into the city to the different malls and shopping areas. We went to one upscale mall early on in the trip, but it was like a mall from back home with all expensive stores so it wasn’t very popular (although it did have a skating rink inside, for real). The real goods were at the outdoor market type ‘malls’. These places had a couple different types of stores: electronics, watches, sunglasses, purses/bags, clothes. Then there were approximately six trillion copies of these stores in each mall area. Everyone selling the exact same stuff just at different prices depending on how big a sucker the person shopping was. We weren’t sure if the stuff is fake, stolen, or just coming straight from the source (see: made in china), but they had some crazy good prices once you bargained a bit. Some guys bought a tonnn of stuff. I wanted to buy some clothes but sadly China isn’t accustomed to abnormally large people. I did manage to buy some RayBan sunglasses and some Beats by Dre headphones for, shall we say, less than retail price.

Learning Chinese:
One of the ongoing aspects of our interactions with Chinese people was using the (very) few Chinese terms we knew to exhaustion. Learned some keepers, among them “Ni Hao” = Hello, “Woh Ai Ni” = I love you, “Xie Xie” = Thank you. Those were the most used. We also found out how to say baby (“Powpey”), so a much used line was “Woh Ai Ni Powpey” or I love you baby. Classy I know.  Probably could have easily learned some more but I can’t say I was very dedicated to it. Oh well.

Trading Black Market:
During the last two nights of the games the open area outside the food courts turned into a crazy marketplace for trading jersey, shirts, and basically any other type of gear. People just had their jerseys and stuff laid out like street vendors where people could come by and propose trades. Some people were going absolutely crazy about this. Sadly we didn’t have much to trade since we had to give back our jerseys. We kept our 2 pairs of practice jerseys though. One of them I wanted to keep because I don’t really have any Israel basketball stuff, but the other one I traded. For the shorts I got some team USA basketball shorts, and for the top I got a Mexican volleyball player’s game jersey. Then randomly my roommate came back with these Lithuania basketball jerseys... granted they were womens, but whatever.

A Real Israeli:
Like one day into our stay in Shenzhen one of my roommates, Gal, decided my name wasn’t Israeli enough so he decided to rename me. He decided on Gadi. So soon enough everyone on the team was calling me Gadi instead of Jared. I don’t know if the humor translates in text but it was a funny name to get called. Good stuff. We also listened to alot of Shlomo Artzi, the Israeli Bruce Springsteen.

Coming Home:
Finally we got back to Israel a little after midnight Tuesday night. Was happy to be back and start playing basketball again. I've been  the gym a bunch in the last two days just getting ready for this season, looking forward to it. All in all it was a really fun trip, even though the basketball part sucked

1 comment:

  1. My fav part: Honestly wherever we went Chinese people wanted to take pictures with me. And once I took one then everyone around saw their opportunity and started to try and get a picture.