The announcement has been made. The Tokyo Olympic Games are on hold with intent to hold during the summer of 2021.
My Japanese experiences:
I had the privilege of serving as USA Team Leader for the 2002 Chiba International Ekiden. I was also appointed as Head Coach for the 2006 Yokohama International Ekiden.
Special memories from Chiba include carrying the U.S. flag at the head of our team as we marched into the stadium. Seeing how this marathon road relay truly is the national sport of Japan. All schools and businesses closed, broadcast live on 5 television stations. My first time to use a bidet, ubiquitous in the land of the Rising Sun. Drinking potato beer shared by the Russian contingent. And after the race going back to the Olympic Training Center and finding a spot “on the wall” for our signatures. Joining the thousands that had competed and coached before us. And how cool that my dear sweet Linda was the USA Team Leader in 2010, whe and her team finding their own spot, joining us together in that exclusive club.
Special memories from Yokohama a little different. My buddy Jim Estes and I invited to dine with the head of the Japanese Amateur Athletic Federation. Sitting at Mr. Tanaka-San’s favorite table at his favorite restaurant. He had a little buzzer mounted at his seat where he would discreetly order another and another and yet another of his favorite sake drinks. For the table. He telling me “I’m so glad the United States sends a male this year, someone that can drink like a man.” The drinks kept coming and to not indulge would have been an insult to my host.
Part of my race morning responsibilities was to make sure our athletes caught their appropriate shuttle at the appropriate time to get to their assigned exchange zone. My head throbbing with the biggest hangover of my life, I managed to pull it off with aplomb.
Just a few things rolling around inside the old bean this morning, thinking of my friends and hosts from a time ago.