The Korean security guard did a double-take. He was sitting at the entrance to the press section at the field hockey stadium in Songnam, a suburb of Seoul. He had seen the American reporter come in, and now he was watching him go out.
"But you got here just," said the guard, in English, trying to make some sense of it.But you can't spend a lot of time at any one venue if you're going to cover everything that's going on in the Olympics. Which was where the Deseret News Seoul Bureau was on Friday, Day 7 of the Games of the 24th Olympiad - covering every event.
It wasn't easy, being everywhere.
Every Olympic day dawns on a smorgasbord of competition. Friday dawned on 18 sports, all going on more or less at the same time.
Actually, it was possible to only get to 16 of the 18 events, since yachting was going on in the ocean, where you couldn't take a taxi, and team handball was being played in Suwon, which is out in the country.
Everything else was taking place in Greater Seoul, a rather large and spread-out area in its own right.
Participation in the Ultimate Spectator Sport required plenty of loose cash for taxis - that and a good map. In all, Friday's coverage required 10 cab rides - the most memorable of which was one with a driver who had his casette tapes stacked in front of his speedometer, which he obviously hadn't looked at in years - and one hitched ride with a security officer at the rowing venue.
It was at that juncture, incidentally, that the Every-Event-In-One-Day Olympics was nearly sunk. The rowing venue, located on the Han River some distance from downtown, was cut off from cab service because of the women's marathon, which had closed several streets.
"Come on, I'll take you guys," said the security guard, an American, as he started up his van and loaded in about a dozen reporters. It was in the running for the Most Humanitarian Gesture of the Games until he got his passengers to the Olympic Park and asked for a donation of 2,000 won each, which netted him around $30 American.
Still, it was well worth it. The race was still on. Rowing was only the fourth event.
The day began for table tennis at the Seoul University courts at 9 a.m. sharp - where Jialing Jiang of China hit the first pingpong ball of the Games (Friday was day one for table tennis), serving to Joudi Lofti of Tunisia. Equestrian jumping was next, followed by field hockey, rowing, gymnastics, tennis, volleyball, shooting, basketball, baseball, water polo, track, boxing, cycling, fencing and, finally, swimming, which ended just after 10 p.m. with, appropriately enough, a world record, set by the U.S. 4X100 relay team.
Even for a sports writer, who spends years of training watching sporting events, it was a lot of sports for one day.
The strangest event was the cycling sprint races, where the two racers spend most of the time trying to let the other one lead. The hardest to understand was fencing, where two guys with swords lunge at each other and no less than 16 judges (honest) try to decide who lunged first.
Watching the horse-jumping was surprisingly enjoyable. The most exciting was a women's volleyball match between China (the defending gold medalists) and Peru, where the normally sedate Koreans, sensing an upset of major proportion, turned their fan support to Peru and had the Hanyang University Gymnasium sounding like a student riot. (Peru, suitably thankful, won in three sets).
The most boring event was the U.S.-China basketball game, which, despite 20 points and nine boards by Ligang Song of China, was won by the U.S., 108-57.
Afterward, U.S. center David Robinson, who had 13 points and nine rebounds, said, "We're just taking them one game at a time."
Which was what the One-day Olympics was trying to do. Take them one event at a time.
Athletic confrontations were everywhere you looked. Russia vs. France in water polo, an Australian vs. a Paraguayan in boxing, the U.S. vs. Canada in baseball, Italy-Bulgaria-Japan-Korea in a rowing final, a Pole vs. an East German in a fencing final.
No country won them all.
In field hockey, the combatants were women from Holland vs. women from Great Britain. The Dutch team was heavily favored, and no sooner had the match started than Lisanne Lejuene scored to put Holland up 1-0.
The Dutch went on to an easy 5-1 win, or so someone said. By the time the match was over the Deseret News Seoul Bureau had relocated to the other side of town, at the Taenung Shooting Center, where Afanasi Kouzmine of the Soviet Union was on his way to setting an Olympic record in rapid fire pistol.
You can be everywhere at the Olympics, and still not see it all.