Another highlight was getting to see Nadal and Federer play on the same day. It has inspired me to work hard on my tennis and I will try out for my middle school tennis team again this year (I didn't make it last year). I also learned how a lot of different sports were played & judged (canoe/kayak slalom, beach volleyball, badminton, diving, etc.). Being able to watch a few events in person helped me appreciate how hard the athletes have to work before and during the Olympics.
Along with watching Olympics, many people go to see the venues and/or trade pins. Trading pins at the Olympics started at the 1896 Athens Olympics between participants, but really didn't become popular until the early 1900s. Pin trading has also been more and more exciting as more and more pins are released. Plus, it's a great way to meet people and have fun at the same time. There's a pin trading center sponsored by Coca Cola in the Olympic Village, too (but the general public can't go in there).
There are many types of pins and they also vary from Olympics to Olympics. The types of pins are quite varied, from pins made by sponsors, to venue pins, to pins with the Olympic Mascots on them. When I went to the men's final beach volleyball match on Friday, I saw these guys trading pins during the break between the bronze medal game and the gold medal game. One guy was from NBC and he was telling the other guy about their special pins, like which ones were sponsor pins, client pins, etc. That's part of the bargaining for pins. One guy even had pins from the Moscow Summer Olympics (1980).
Just like in trading Pokémon cards, the rarer the pin is, the more it is worth! If the pins have moving parts (like a door or a spinning part) then it is worth more, too. I also found out that most people wanted pins with either the Olympic Rings or the logo for that Olympic Game on them. I just had ones with an American flag and a Chinese flag on it. Some collectors will sell you pins, too. I bought my Road Runner one for 20 RMB (US$3.00).
I have just traded pins a couple of times—at the beach volleyball game, and once at a party when I met Gabe Gardner and he gave me a USA volleyball pin when I gave him a China souvenir as thank you for my interview. My mom traded and got me pins from a nice manager at the Coke pavilion, with a silver medalist fencer and the USA diving team organizer. You can see my pin collection on my Olympic shirt.
My parents bought me one for every event that we got to see (those cost about 25 RMB (US$3.75). My brother has a collection, too, but he didn't like collecting pins as much as I did.
So if you ever go to an Olympics, don't forget to bring some pins to trade with. Maybe we'll see each other trading pins at the London 2012 Olympics!
In Beijing, the athletes live in their own Olympic village. Their family members can't stay there and most family members either live in rented apartments or with friends in the city. The Olympic Village is on the Olympic shuttle bus route to the tennis venue and it was fun to see how they had decorated their sections with their country's flags on the balconies.
With world-class athletes comes world-class catering, also known as McDonalds (well, for this Olympics). There are five McDonald's total in the Olympic Green, two for spectators, two for athletes and one for the press. See how crowded it was at this McDonald outlet.
Here's a picture of the complete menu. At the venues, a lot of these items might not be offered--like I've never seen sandwiches at any of the events I went to, but my Mom said she ate a sandwich and some sweet popcorn (the Chinese put sugar, not salt on their popcorn) at a Basketball match. We've learned to eat a big meal before we head out (usually two hours before the event starts) and I bring my own granola bars in my bag!
There are two McDonald's on the Olympic Green, but the lines are so long that you have to wait over 30 minutes to buy anything. After our third visit today in the rain, we finally managed to buy lunch at McD's. Those hamburgers never tasted so good! Found out that athletes have two McDonald's just for them, and it's all free—more on that next time as I write on the life of an athlete at the Olympics!