Saturday night “sightseeing” with a world champion.
The 17th FINA World Championships kicked off in Duna Arena on Friday, divers filled the newly built facility. It was not long till first medals were claimed, winners could top the podium three times on Saturday. As a media staff member i attended each victory ceremony of course, then at about 9.45 I called it a day and left for home being pretty tired.
I just came out of the Arena to find a totally confused Chinese athlete trying to figure out bus timetables at the bus stop. If it wasn’t for the World Championships I would have approached him to help anyway, I am sure in his shoes I would also be happy to receive some help from a local when lost in Beijing for instance. I hoped English would be a common language for us, but I wasn’t completely right. Nevertheless, I am quite good at playing activity. After a while it turned out that Cao Yuan was not at all helpless at metacommunication, either, not to mention diving. In addition to his tally of two Olympic gold and a World Championships gold medal he clinched a silver in men’s 3m synchro springboard in Duna Arena on Saturday.
We soon realized that his bus had left, the hotel where he was staying was totally unknown for me so we called the dispatched for help and asked them to send a car for him so that his fellow team members and coach would not need to worry anymore. After a night ride combined with some sightseeing we arrived at the indicated address where there was a big, fat nothing. :)
That was the moment I started lamenting about the meaning of life and about how to run the logic by my fiancée that tonight Yuan, pride of the Chinese delegation, will join us. Then I spotted a neon banner of a hotel in the distance and it finally dawned on me. Can everyone rest in their own bed tonight somehow? After another ride we finally arrived at the particular hotel and it turned out he had been given the wrong address. Never mind. Just a nuisance.
In light of the preceding I wanted to make sure he was at the right place now so I accompanied Yuan all the way to the entrance and this time everything went fine. Before saying goodbye, he popped the question in broken English yet quite understandably: “Do you have a girlfriend?” I was somewhat surprised, although I thought nothing would surprise me after all that happened during the day but all I could do was to nod my head. At that moment the newly claimed World Champs runner up gave me the flower bouquet he had received together with the medal and all smiles he told me to give it to my girl. Normally I can easily find the words yet in that very moment I could only nod my head again in agreement and shook hands with him. And of course my lips curved in a genuine smile. That was all I could do.
After the late night challenge, I finally headed home thinking it was only the second day of the Champs. What do the World Champs have in store for me :)?