SEOUL - Another sunny day in Seoul. T minus 12 days until the marathon.
It's Tuesday afternoon and we're watching the same Olympic programming you're seeing in Utah on Monday evening. We even have NBC's feed to the states, thanks to the Armed Forces Network. I guess it's not exactly NBC's feed. The commercials we see are definitely meant for servicemen. But I think I like it that way. I'd much rather see a commercial on the history of the canteen, or how to assemble a pup tent. It beats those boring beer and car ads anyway.We have another advantage. Our Samsung TV has three channels in Korean we can flip to at anytime to see other Olympic action. And since NBC takes a break every five minutes to show a canteen commercial or the city of Seoul, we spend most of our time watching and listening to the Games in Korean.
Right now it's halftime of the U.S.-Canada basketball game. Canada's up by two. Now that would be an ugly upset! I'm sure the U. S. will pull it out. If they didn't (they did), it wouldn't be the first upset of these Games. Already one of our favored boxers was knocked out in his first fight. Another boxer, Anthony Hembrick, was upset by his coach when the latter read the schedule wrong and got Hembrick to the arena in time to see his opponent's arm raised in victory - the winner on a walkover.
Last night, in yet another upset, Korea defeated Brazil in men's volleyball. It was the most vocal I've seen a Korean crowd (not counting student riots, which by the way, I've only seen on TV in Utah).
I'm sharing an apartment with four other athletes. Doug Padilla and Henry Marsh have one bedroom, Pat Porter and Steve Scott another. I have a room to myself right now as my roommate and fellow marathoner, Mark Conover, has retreated back to the peace and serenity of the Nihon Aerobics Center in Japan. We have a sparsely decorated living room, a small table and four wooden chairs along with the Korean-made color TV.
A refrigerator is stocked with bottled water, cola, and cans of Gatorade, and apparently someone has decided that Fig Newtons are the official snack of the `88 Olympics. Boxes of them have been delivered and wrappers litter the floor.
We are in the penthouse of building 232, the 13th floor, but none of us is superstitious. Instead, from our balcony, we enjoy the view of the Olympic Village and the green mountains and vegetable gardens which lie just a few miles away.
On the wall of our living room are two Olympic posters, one of the Olympic torch bearer and the other of Hodori, a friendly looking striped tiger that is the mascot of these Olympics and was mistaken by my mom for Garfield.
The only part of the housing that is really questionable is the floor covering. It resembles vinyl wall paper, and judging from the bubbles and uneven cuts, was laid in great haste.
Every morning a thick fog enshrouds the village. When I first saw the dense clouds I thought that perhaps there was a fire or, even worse, that the students had gotten out of hand and tear gas was flying. The unique smell and taste made me sure it couldn't simply be fog rolling off the ocean, and I wondered if it wasn't merely air pollution. This morning I found the culprit. A little Hyundai pickup truck was weaving through the village, trailing behind it flumes of smoke rising from two large exhaust systems.
They fog the air every morning to kill the mosquitoes. Apparently it's working, as I've yet to see one of the pesky blood-suckers and I sleep with the windows open. I just hope they don't drug test for pesticides.