Sunday, September 6, 2009

BRAZIL - In Country

Our plane touched down in Ribeirao Preto, Brazil at 2:40pm local time. A very beautiful city from the air with green planted fields almost touching the concrete of the city streets. As the plane taxied to the terminal it was clear to see some of the poorness surrounding the high rise apartments of downtown. All of the houses around the airport reflected severe poverty with tin roofs and in the cases where there was a covering over the main doorway, usually resembled a worn quilt or blanket of some kind.

The red dirt was evident everywhere from the runway to the car and bicycle tires and shoes on the resident airport workers feet. Stepping off of the plane, I thought I had landed in a community of 2 or 3 thousand people not 700,000!! There was only one gate and the luggage was delivered by a tractor with a flatbed trailor behind it. It would have been easier to take the luggage from the trailer than the 20 feet of moving belt that was the luggage carrousel.

The hotel has been excellent and is one of the best facilities I have been in during the World Championships. The rooms are quite large and beds very comfortable. The air conditioning keeps the room at a very nice 18 degrees centigrade, perfect for a good sleep.

I had beers with some of the local Brazilian lifters last night. Amazing that even below the equator all lifters can laugh at the same jokes, even through an interpreter, and throw the same insults at each other for fun. Got reaquainted with friends and lifters from championships past and enjoyed catching up with them. It was an excellent first day and evening.

Friday, September 4, 2009


It's almost like a homecoming of sorts. Watching Team USA come together at the Houston airport is a lot of hugs and laughter and sitting cross legged on the floor, in the fixed string of airport chairs or wherever they can find a spot. Chatting, exchanging stories about their summer or home or lifting, whatever, it doesn't matter. It's like a family at Thanksgiving or Christmas. What's interesting is that some of these kids are really kind of meeting for the first time.
Each qualified for the team in their own way, either High School Nationals or Women's Nationals or Men's Nationals, now they are here a part of something for some of them that will bond them to this group forever. They will follow each other in some manner, especially with today's technology, for maybe a lifetime. They will share friendships and hardships with each other because of this trip. As a coach, this is what being a part of the USA World team is all about. The relationships I have managed to create with these young people is the reason for me being here. I am truly blessed to be a small piece of their transition into adulthood. Whether they finish next week as a World Champion, a World record holder, make it to the podium, just finish or bomb, they will grow physically and mentally and be better human beings because of this experience.
For some, it will be their only time at the World Championships, their only opportunity to represent their country in any manner. For others they have been here numerous times. Except for the ease of international travel, it's hard to tell one from the other. They blend into a blur of red, white and blue uniforms, smiles, chatter and laughter.