Ni Hao! This is Tolo coming to you live from the World Summer University Games in Shenzhen, China. I, along with other Aussies, will be sending you updates, so you know what the basketballers are up to in Shenzhen.
We finally arrived in the village at 2am after a couple of bus changes and security checkpoints. The village is MASSIVE and there are many things to see. The couple of dining halls are a lot bigger than the last games in Serbia. There is a good variety of food so far, which surprisingly includes a 24hr McDonalds in the dining hall. As an athlete we are entitled to a $500 Yuan (100AUD) Maccas voucher, which ours for some reason have disappeared.
The weather has been constantly unpredictable. After the first day we discovered why we had umbrellas in each of our cupboards, and why we needed to remember to bring them everywhere. While waiting for the village’s buggy transportation, we were all dripping from head to toe, and wondering why we even needed to go to the pool.
Our blow-up team mascot, a boxing kangaroo, was finally named Hoppa after many suggestions including Rocky Balboa and Danny Green. A person who does something silly or funny, or just simply deserves it, will have Hoppa duty, which includes taking the 1m kangaroo to each training session and some events. Tess Madgen had the first duty of Hoppa after a nice looking half way shot at training. The coaching staff got allocated Hoppa after being 15 minutes late for the bus to training.
We got the chance to head to some shops after training one day. After a bus ride we got to a shopping centre which was classy and had branded shops like Gucci and Louis Vuitton. This wasn’t quite what we were after, but we finally arrived in Luohu Commercial Centre after a couple of trains and random chats with the locals. Thanks Chloe and Ling Ling! These shops were quite an experience, with bartering skills essential. Emma thought her skills were too good after being told that her dvd purchase was about 10 AUS dollars and giving ‘Jimmy’ 10 Juan (about 2 AUD) total, and saying “that’s right isn’t it?”. She was given Hoppa duty for the next day.
We had our first practice game against Brazil on Thursday. It was a physical encounter, which was interestingly refereed by Chris Lucas and a Brazilian coach. The Aussies ended up victorious after great improvement as the game went on. This game was great preparation for those to come, which start on Sunday versus the Swedish.
Tess’ birthday on Friday was celebrated in style with the Opening Ceremony. It was a spectacular experience with the buildings, performances and decorations second to none. The waterpolo girls were keeping the Aussies, and our section of the Chinese crowd, entertained by dancing on chairs and throwing koalas into the crowd. After many speeches, performances, the lighting of the cauldron and a strange theme song it was finally time to venture back to the village. We all crashed through security and were soundly asleep by 12:30am after a long day.
After another day of practice we are all ready and excited to play our 1st game against Sweden.