Tyler Hamilton Diary
It was a little bit sad to see them extinguishing the flame in the Olympic Stadium in Athens last night.
Girona, Spain: It was a little bit sad to see them extinguishing the flame in the Olympic Stadium in Athens last night. My wife and I watched the closing ceremonies on television from Spain. It seemed like weeks since we had been in Athens. I have always been a fan of the Olympic Games, ever since I was a kid. It's a little like watching the Tour de France in the summer time, I guess. You get into a routine of checking in every day and get sort of addicted to the drama of it all. <?xml:namespace prefix = o ns = "urn:schemas-microsoft-com:office:office" /?>
I always find myself watching the sports that seem to take a four-year hiatus from being covered, like diving, kayaking and distance running. I guess I feel a kinship with other non-mainstream athletes. It's amazing how fired up you can become rooting for someone you've never met or heard of before. But then, that's the beauty of the Olympics. Sportsmanship and passion are often at the forefront of every athlete's performance. And it's usually just as much fun to root for the guys at the bottom of the standings as it is for the guys on top.
I was the first alternate on the US Cycling team for the Atlanta Games so I never made it there. I did manage to make the Sydney Games however, which, at the time felt like a dream come true. Especially traveling all the way down to Australia. The city was fired up, and the people were friendly and more than happy to host the entire world as their guests.
The Olympic Village was a good distance from the road cycling venues so our team opted to stay in hotels instead. This way we could train on the courses every day and spare ourselves long commutes in the process. In the end, although we were at the Olympics, it felt like we were at just another race. We missed out on the Opening and Closing ceremonies and in the process, the Olympic experience as well.
But in 2004 we arrived early and checked into the Olympic Village, which will be converted to a sleek new suburb of <?xml:namespace prefix = st1 ns = "urn:schemas-microsoft-com:office:smarttags" /?>
The entire US Cycling Team stayed in one apartment building. It felt a little like my old college days. Except for the security guards posted upstairs and on the roof. The Americans were under a watchful eye and were asked to refrain from hanging flags, banners or anything American looking from our balconies, windows or doorways. Which in the end made the American compound stand out all the more - given that every other apartment building in the complex had been fully decorated in respective national spirit.
Security in and out of the village was