Wednesday, September 3: Some bleary-eyed faces at breakfast indicate that not everyone managed a good night’s sleep. Those who followed Tim’s jet-lag strategy seem to have fared better than the rest.
At 09.45 we all head over to the hall for our training session at 10.00. After yesterday’s rain the sun is shining in a clear blue sky and it is already very warm. The facilities here are impressive and even include a smaller replica of the iconic Bird’s Nest Stadium; amazing to think that the entire complex is for disability sport. We train in the main competition hall and the conditions are perfect for table tennis – the best floor, tables and lighting. All the GB athletes are training this morning and coach Neil Robinson doubles as hitting partner for the wheelchair players. Performance director Gorazd Vecko and coaches Greg and Matt keep a close eye on proceedings and offer advice while physio Jill is on hand to massage away any aches and pains after the long flight here.
The two hour session comes to an end and it’s time for lunch after which we all pile on to a bus and head out of Beijing for the Great Wall. The increasing links between China and the West are evident as all the road signs are in English as well as Chinese. As the city gives way to countryside some of the guys engage in a lively argument about the difference between hills and mountains. Exactly when does a hill become a mountain? Undoubtedly one of life’s great questions but it does make a change from yet another discussion about football.
After nearly two hours on the bus we arrive at the Great Wall of Badaling. Our bus driver parks in the wrong area which creates some confusion and by the time we get everyone off the bus we make our way to the ticket office where we are just in time to catch the last cable car up the hill/mountain to the wall. It is an awesome view and well worth the trip and after taking a few photos we catch the last cable car back down again.
There is time to get some refreshments and buy a few souvenirs and then we pile back on the bus. We reach new intellectual heights on the way back with a game of I-spy, which passes the time and proves yet again that athletes are competitive at everything.
It’s been a fun outing for the team and a good distraction for the athletes from the challenge that lies ahead. Dinner and then an early night for everyone and hopefully a good night’s sleep as our first training session tomorrow starts at 08.30.