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Beijing Journal

September 7th, 2008

Allison came back from China, having an incredible time at the Olympics.  I thought I’d share her emails:





I can’t believe it has come and gone, but the Games are over and I’m back hard a work!
Here is my final Beijing installment. Please find Beijing Parts 1 and 2 at the end of the email. My apologies to the many people who didn’t get Part 1 or 2 due to an email malfunction!


That’s right folks, I was there when Simon won his silver medal in triathlon. Along with Alison, Norm and Kathrin, the last 5 minutes of the race were a heart attack special! We cheered our hearts out as Simon dropped back, caught up with the group, dropped again then surged for what looked like a gold medal – that silver felt like gold! Way to go SIMON!

5.05 metres -that’s high – and it seems even higher when watching a woman run down the runway, with a skinny little pole that launches her into the air …and hopefully over the bar at the top that is the only barrier between her and the record books. What was even more amazing was watching Russia’s Yelena Isinbayeva achieve this record with 91,000 other spectators on her third and final attempt - in two words – truely awesome.

Things were little slow and moral was not the best, but things turned around on Day 8 when Carol Huynh secured Canada’s first gold medal for the Games in wrestling. Watching Carol receive her gold on TV at Canada Olympic House was a tear-filled event. Scott has been working with the women’s wrestling team over the past few years and Calgary, so I felt like he had a little role in the victory. AND YES – if you thought you saw me on TV, YOU WERE RIGHT! Alison Brazier and I were intereviewed for CTV and on CBC as well (our little bit of Olympic Fame).

I almost didn’t go, but the name says it all – it is a wall and it is GREAT! The pictures say it all. Thanks to Yung and Mike, my fellow adventurers, for sharing the experience!

You had to know that this would be on the list! Cheap and always an adventure, I experienced Beijing shopping. Thanks to Alison and her gang of ‘NO NONSENSE’ hagglers, I got some deals! Oh, and for those of you who were wondering what to get me for Christmas, I am now, officially, into BAGS (some people like to call them ‘purses’, but I prefer ‘bags’. Can’t get too girly too fast!).

Not only was this some time away from my world of medicine, but it was the chance to catch-up with so many great friends…and make new ones!

This structure was more spectacular in real life! I just couldn’t stop taking pictures of it! …and to be inside it with 91,000 other people – WOW!

Going to places like China really makes you realize just how young Canada is. In China, anything dated AD is young! From old temples, palaces and artifacts to new buildings and the people of Beijing themselves, I enjoyed exploring, trying the food (thanks to Yung’s guidance) and meeting the people. I’m looking forward to going back some day – I can only imagine the cultural explosion that will take place in China and Beijing itself following these Games.

Working at Canada Olympic House everyday, I had the unique opportunity to ride the Olympic wave with our Canadian athletes and their families. Whether it was the disappointment of a lost match or the celebration of a medal winner, I was honoured to be able to support our athletes and their families at an event that represents thousands of hours of practice, long-term dedication, untolled early mornings & late nights, blood, sweat and tears. The Olympics have a way of bringing-out a certain pride for your country that is even more powerful being where is all happening. Wait until Vancouver 2010, then you will know what I am talking about.
To get a sense of what I did and what it was like to be at a medal reception at Canada Olympic House, check-out this video:

Okay, I know, I know, Ironman Canada takes place in Penticton, BC, not Beijing. BUT, I like to think of this as part of my trip, since I did fly 12 hours from Beijing to land in Vancouver, hitch a ride with Deb and Jamie (THANK YOU) straight to Penticton to watch Scott compete the following day. WHAT A DAY IT WAS! Scott had a superb race finishing the bike in 3rd place. When I saw him at mile 5 of the run, still in third place, LOOKING GOOD and making time on the leaders, I had a good feeling. Unfortunately, the tank wasn’t as full as we thought and Scott finished in 11th place. The field was fast this year, last year, Scott’s time would have easily placed him in the top 5! WAY TO GO SCOTTY! Scott has had an awesome year with an 8th place finish at Ironman Coeur D’Alane and now this. He is now gearing-up for Ironman Arizona in November – GO SCOTTY GO!

So Farewell Beijing! What a SHOW!

Please check-out my photos online – hopefully, they bring a little of my Beijing experience to life for you.

So what’s next? One year to finish my residency, then working…oh…and a little thing called….VANCOUVER 2010!

Thanks for the emails- hope you are all well
Love & hugs


Hello Again from Beijing

The Olympic Games are in FULL SWING and I am having a blast! I haven’t been this tired in a long time, but I guess that’s hwat happens when you are having too much FUN!

Some notes since my last update…

Many of you are aware that Alison Brazier is also here in Beijing. Alison arrived here in mid July and has been working in the outfitting department for the Canadian Olympic Committee (in otherwords, she makes sure all the of the athletes have their uniforms, proper sizing and look GOOD!). I am here as a volunteer and working in Canada Olympic House. While we don’t work in the same area, we have been having a lot of great adventures together. From cultural adventures to the Forbidden City to cultural shopping adventures at the pearl market (wow, shopping in China is WAY differen than shopping anywhere else!) and lots of late night adventures – in otherwords, we have been doing Beijing in style. It is just great to be able to spend time with Alison here in Beijing. While we live far away now (Alison in Toronto and me in Chlliwack), we have remained close friends and I feel lucky to share my Beijing adventure with her.

The past 24hours have been a whirlwind of Olympic Highlights for me.
Last night, I was at the track with Alison Brazier and Norm O’Reilly (both were in our wedding party). Anyways, we were fortunate enough to watch history in the making as Elena Isinbaeva from Russia broke the world record in the women’s pole vault. It was amazing. All of the evenings track events were complete and she was the only competitor on the field. Can you imagine what it would be like to have 97,000 people watchin just you attempt a world record? She easily beat the Olympic Record jumping 4.95m to better her record set in Athens of 4.91m. She then had the bar set at 5.05m, 1cm higher than her current world record of 5.04m. Her first and second attempts were unsuccessful. On her third and final attempt, we could just feel the excitment in the air. With 97,000 people cheering, she went down the runway and flew over the bar setting a new world record. The crowd went crazy – it was just awesome.

Today, I had the opportunity to see another piece of Canadian history. Alison, Norm and I were fortunate enough to get tickets to the men’s triathlon. What a beautiful venue. About an hour out of Beijing, the venue is at the Ming Tombs reservoir. A stunning backdrop to a great race. The swim was uneventful. Led by a kiwi, our boys Simon, Colin and Paul all came out in the middle of the pack. The group of 51 athletes road together for 4 laps of the race when a group of three riders made a break away. They made a 50 second lead on the group, but that was quickly diminshed on the run. Colin Jenkins worked hard for Canada leading the bike at several stages of the race. The run started with Simon in good position. To tell you the truth, everybody looked a little flat coming off the bike – likely due to the heat and the hilly course. Throughout the race, Simon maintained contact. The pack separated with a surge from Javier Gomez leaving 4 men running for the medals. Twice, Simon dropped back and our hearts sank – but he came back each time. Entering the stadium for the final 1km, Simon threw off his visor and went for it. He caught up to the three leaders with 800m to go. At the turn-around, he took over the lead and came into the final stretch in first place. With a burst of speed, it looked like he was for sure going to have the gold medal (we were going CRAZY!!!!! My voice is hoarse as a result). In the final 100m, German athlete Jan Frodeno (an athlete with no prior victories in ITU racing) put on a strong kick to pass Simon into over the finish line. Simon was followed by Athens Silver Medallist Bevan Docherty of New Zealand. The favourite and undefeated in ITU racing this year, Javier Gomez, finished 4th. WE WERE OVER THE MOON!!!! It was amazing. I had the opportunity to watch Simon win gold in Sydney and it was awesome to watch him finish today with a silver medal. The other Canadians, Paul & Colin finished 15th and 50th respectively. All three athletes were here at Canada Olympic House this afternoon. Simon said he is still in a ‘daze’, but very happy with his performance. We are happy too!

The energy surrounding the Canadian team has definetly improved. With ten medals at the time of writing this update, we have 10 medals – lots more than we had three days ago. We have a lot of medal chances entering the final days of the Olympic Games…keep your fingers crossed!

The Olympics are in the final week of competition – and I am in my final week of adventures. I’m planning on heading to the Great Wall tomorrow and doing some more shopping (any requests???). Looking forward to the adventures.

Thank you to everyone for the emails. As I sure you can understand, things are a little busy here so I can’t reply individually. I hope to be in touch with you all when I get home!

I had an email from a good friend from Waterloo track days, Jason Dockendorf – congratulations on your engagement Jason (hope you don’t mind me spreading the word) 🙂

Lots of hugs and love


Hello Everyone

I arrived in Beijing on August 8th, 2008 – only four hours before the opening ceremonies for the games. My flight over was uneventful and fabulous (fortunately for me, everyone was already in Bejing so my flight was empty and as a result…I had a whole row of seats to myself to stretch out and snooze).

The airport here in Beijing is outstanding. As with most buildings here that have popped-up in the last four years, it is an architectural masterpiece.

I quickly realized that I would have a little problem getting to my appartment since it was within 500m of the Olympic Green and the Bird’s Nest where the Opening Ceremonies were to be held. All of the roads within one kilometer of the Olympic Green were blocked off, all taxis were off the road and a shuttle bus was my only option. Thanks to all the of the volunteers and my broken mandarin (okay, the three or four phrases I learned on a ‘Learn Mandarin’ CD that I picked-up two weeks before leaving Canada), I found my appartment with lots of time before the Opening Ceremonies. What a spectacular show. Not only did I watch it on TV, but I was able to lean off my balcony and part of the Bird’s Nest and the fireworks. AWESOME! I hope you all enjoyed the spectacle at home.

Anyways, here is a little update about my experience in Beijing

At every Olympic Games, the Canadian Olympic Committee operates Canada Olympic House (COH). COH is a home away from home for Canadian Athletes and their families. The house hosts meals, special events and provides families and athletes with a place to meet. I have been working in the family and friends area which means that I answer questions. It has been a great position to work as it has made me get to know Beijing as people are always asking questions. I work daily from 4pm to 11pm which leaves lots of time to do things in the morning.

Day 6 of the 2008 Olympic Games and still no medals for Canada. Despite this, moral seems to be high and we have some good opportunities coming-up in the near future. As you are aware, China is in the lead, but I think this will change in the next week as the Athletics competition starts. My prediction is that the USA will surge ahead with medals in Athletics…we’ll see what happens!

DELICIOUS! BUT USE CAUTION! Walking into a grocery store here is an adventure in itself. I have been eating my main meals at COH and adventuring into Chinese cuisine on day trips. So far so good! I am not on the ‘Beijing Weight Loss Program’ like many of my fellow Canadians – and no, I don’t mean just avoiding food! If this gives you any hint to the weight loss program…Immodium is an official Canadian Team sponsor (no kidding, we have BOXES of it at COH and it is the first thing people see when they arrive!)

Since I have been here I have only seen the sun once. The ‘Beijing Fog’ which is actually the ‘Beijing SMOG’ is real and all pollution. It is a great example of what happens if we do not treat our planet with respect and continue to USE USE USE (plug here for a Greener lifestyle -you can ALL DO IT!). It is HOT HOT HOT, but the humidity is the killer. Fortunately, we have had several evening and daytime rainshowers which is keeping things a bit cooler than when I arrived. Speaking with my friends, they said that there are mountains that skirt the city…they have only seen them once in the 4 weeks they have been here so I’m not holding my breath for my chance! (update- today was a beautiful blue sky…and yes…there are mountains around Beijing!)

What can I say but WOW WOW WOW! This city has really come together. Everytime I stop and have any hint of looking like I don’t know what I am doing – I have at least 7 people jump on me asking ‘Can I help you’ in broken English. Sometimes they can figure it out, sometimes not, but I never feel alone or lost! I have 7 new friends! There are so many volunteers here it is UNBELIEVABLE!

It seems as though I am a bit of a celebrity here. Yep, that’s right! Actually, I am a minority here in a BIG WAY which has been a very good learning experience for me. I have never been in the situation before. I walk down the street and EVERYONE stares at me. I often have people walk right up to me and take my picture – some ask, some don’t. When people ask, each one has to have their photo taken with me. It is definetly the colour of my complexion that draws such attention. It has been interesting to note that many Chinese women try to keep their skin as light as possible and even go to the extremes of chemically changing their skin. Again, just a reminder that skin colour does give advantage in this world – even in this day and age – this is something we all need to remember and try to change.

The best way to describe this might be ‘organized chaos’. In order to help control some of the pollution, many cars have been removed from Beijing roads; however, there are still A LOT of cars on the road. The best way to get around Beijing is in a taxi. For only 2 dollars CDN, you can get from one end of the city to the other in a blink of an eye (and it is sometimes better to keep your eyes closed). Despite the driving chaos and lack of seat belts in the cabs (don’t panic Mom), I’m surprisingly relaxed while in a cab. Why

I started with no tickets and have already been to five events with more on the way! Yippi!

Photos -coming sometime hopefully soon – once I figure out how to download and upload to a website!

Hope you enjoy! I’ll write another update before the end of the Games! I’m off to do some cultural exploration today – can’t wait!
Hugs and love to all

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