Rio Olympics Blog — Day Fourteen: En garde

inside the fencing arena in the Olympic Park in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil

So Thursday ended up being quite the interesting day.

I ended up picking up a fencing story after my shift for got moved from the morning to the evening. And it was as frustrating as it was fun to cover.

I showed up 45 minutes before U.S. epee team took the floor for their quarterfinal match against Romania, but ran into difficulties. I got through the media entrance without issue, but I encountered an issue getting into the mixed zone before hand, so that I knew where to go after the match. But the person checking credentials said I couldn’t enter despite the fact I had no issues prior to this.

Frustrated and a bit frazzled, I walked up and sat in the arena to watch the match. The Americans, which had two sisters that my story focused, fell behind early, but rallied late to take a three-point lead with a few minutes remaining. But Romania scored three-straight points to tie the match and force overtime, where they won and knocked the Americans out.

I was worried about getting back to the mixed zone, but found an elevator just off to the side of the exit from the seating area that took me right to the mixed zone with no credential check. Thankfully, I got the interviews and wrote this story about the match for the San Antonio Express-News.

After grabbing a bite to eat just outside the park, I went on duty for the website, and for once I had an interesting assignment.

Thursday marked the beginning of the cycling track events and they wanted me to go cover it. But like the fencing earlier, I faced issues at the arena. I got in the media entrance with no issues, but after going up to watch a bit of the action, I attempted to go back down to the venue’s media center and was promptly denied despite the fact I literally just came from that area. Not. Cool.

I ended up standing right behind the non-tabled press section watching some of the action. I saw the Great Britain women beat the world-record for women’s team pursuit in qualifying and the United States team come just short of that mark in second place.

I then moved to an actual seat on the other side of the area to sit for the men’s team pursuit and the finals of the men’s team sprint. The danger of the sport was revealed when two Dutch riders clipped wheels, sending one of them into the wall just below me. He ended up walking off under his own power for the most part, but they spent about 5–10 minutes repairing the track.

After that was completed, I saw the British team nearly break the world record and then came the main event: the men’s team sprint final.

The gold medal race came down to Great Britain and New Zealand, who I estimate combined for about 70 percent of the crowd in the velodrome. It was an incredible race with neither side moving ahead by more than a tenth of a second. Most folks in my section couldn’t tell who crossed the line first (the finish line for both teams is halfway around the track from each other) and instead looked to the video board for the result. The British nipped the Kiwis at the line by .102 seconds. Simply incredible and a great lead for my cycling recap, which you can read here.

I must say, cycling track is an underrated sport at the Olympics. Most of the races are incredibly fast and incredibly close. If you ever have the chance, I highly recommend you see it in person.

Friday should be a more relaxed day. I work for in the morning and then plan to go watch the U.S. men’s basketball team face off against Serbia at night.

Miles walked today: 7.85

Total miles walked: 84.97

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