Russell's situation sad turn of events

From Baltimore to Beijing

August 09, 2008|By Kevin Van Valkenburg

The Sun's Olympic correspondents, Rick Maese and Kevin Van Valkenburg, are blogging back and forth to each other at baltimoresun.com/olympicsblog. An excerpt:

Maese et al.,

Subject: I sure am glad there is not weight limit for writers

Since you're off writing about world affairs in earthquake ravaged Chengdu, I'll update you as to what's going on here in Beijing. It seems that Gary Russell Jr., a boxer from Capitol Heights, failed to make weight and had to withdraw from the Olympics after the USA coaching staff found him unconscious last night in his room, suffering from dehydration. Wow, if that isn't a strange turn of events. You wait all your life to fight for an Olympic medal, and then you can't make weight and nearly kill yourself in the process? That is a like something from a F.X. Toole short story. (He wrote Rope Burns, which was the inspiration for the movie Million Dollar Baby.) Russell was a real medal contender, too, and said winning gold at the Olympics was more important to him than winning a world championship or being rich. What a shame.

I sure am glad there is not weight limit for writers, or you'd see me struggling these last few days after some of the meals we've had. We had a blog commenter (I believe our first who I don't suspect is my wife or your girlfriend) and he/she pointed out that we seemed to be focusing on all the negative aspects of Beijing. Is he right? Are we turning into those whiny Americans who come to a foreign country and complain about everything because we're a pair of ignorant dupes? Beijing is incredibly organized. I have to give them that. The volunteers this week are like an army of charm, ready to help you with a door, hand you a napkin or nod and smile while you struggle to ask for directions.

I don't think we've crossed over and become bad Americans; at least not yet. (I'm willing to overlook some questionable jokes about the Triads. For now.) But I think I should point out how much we've enjoyed the food thus far. You know me, I can usually survive on a steady diet of turkey sandwiches and chicken quesadillas, but I must say the food we've had in Beijing has been excellent. We haven't been so bold as to eat animal penis like our Tribune colleague Bill Plaschke (Story coming soon to a blog near you!), but we have had some excellent noodles, yak, fish and lamb. Supposedly, the government asked restaurants not to serve dog during the Olympics, but I've heard stories about how you can still get it if you want and know where to look. I'm not interested, but I'm not going to judge either. It sort of goes back to the Pulp Fiction debate: Is it really OK to eat pigs and not dogs simply because dogs have more personality? Pigs, according to scientists, are actually smarter than dogs. But there are rarely howls of protests when someone eats a ham sandwich.

I guess this is probably the wrong debate to be having with a vegetarian.

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