Olympic Athletes Having Fun
"I just want to drink a beer," an Olympic athlete was saying early this morning at Club Bud. "A lot of them, actually."
You've never seen so many grown adults so anxious to pop the top off a bottle of their first bottle of Americanish beer as at an Olympic party following the completion of their events. The red carpet at this party last night was less a scene of glamorous interviews--since it was mostly just me and Access Hollywood--and more a scene of athletes jubilantly using one of several bottle openers available on the red carpet.
"This is the best week of our lives," said U.S. swimmer Brendan Hansen.
"Absolutely, absolutely," said fellow swimmer Cullen Jones, who was wearing a blinged-out belt buckle that scrolled the words "Gold Medalist." (See video below.)
"For the last nine months I've been in a bunker," Hansen said.
This was the day many athletes got let out. Swimming ended on Sunday. Rowing was also finished. The metal defectors thus filled up with all sorts of broad-shouldered types wearing official athlete passes and ready to party in a building with inflatable kangaroos, a swimming pool, cabanas and free beer.
"To be honest, the reality is that there are like a few hundred medals and like 15,000 people," said Carl Lewis, who happened to be hanging out. "So for most athletes, this is what it's about. It really is a party, let's be real."
There were athletes from Canada, the U.S., Australia, Poland, New Zealand, England, American Samoa and the Cook Islands. There were wrestlers, shooters, gymnasts, judo players and lots and lots of rowers. There were Australians with inflatable kangaroos--because every party here has an inflatable kangaroo--and there was Evander Holyfield--because every party here has an Evander Holyfield.
The normal people would cluster around the muscled people and try to leech some Olympic authenticity. Many of the muscled people wore their medals around their necks, letting normal people come up and rub and touch them. Others were still adjusting.
"If you want to know the truth, it's a little weird," Canadian rower Tracy Cameron said of the bronze disc hanging her around the neck. "I want to kind of tuck it away."
"I don't even know what's going on right now," said U.S. gold medalist rower Erin Cafaro. "Red carpet stuff? You know, me and Paris."
Many of the squealing girls outside the red carpet were hoping to see Michael Phelps; he went to the Speedo party and never made it to Club Bud. But the athletes all had friends, and the friends all whooped when the athletes were on the red carpet. Some ex-rowers started singing, and the next group behind them was worried that they were required to do karaoke.
The bronze medal-winning U.S. men's gymnasts wore tailored suits and seemed oddly sober; "unfortunately, on our prohibited list is alcohol, and we're subject to full menu testing until the 24th," Justin Springs said. "It's kind of a slap in the face....So we've been going to all these places with open bars and free booze, and I'm like, 'yeaaah, in like a week.' "
Natalie Coughlin said she'd been on the honor code for two months; this was her first day off. Others had tapered.
"Actually I've been drinking alcohol slowly but steadily all week, thank you," gold medalist Susan Francia said. "No, I don't have a problem, I promise....My coach did tell us don't get hurt tonight and I said, why, it doesn't matter any more, right? We got the gold. That's what mattered. But no, we're actually, we're gonna be responsible." She paused. "No we're not," she said.
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