The Air Over Here
I apologize. I should not have taken a swipe at Tianjin upon my arrival yesterday. (No, um, I have not been pressured to write this.) Actually, a closer look through the haze today has revealed wide boulevards, an amusement park, 12 islands in East and West Lake, a zoo, the famed Goubuli steamed stuffed buns and the Wuda roads neighborhood in Heping District, lined with hundreds of European-style villas built in the 1920 and '30s. We are close to the sea and the Great Wall at Huangya Pass. No doubt, the city has character.
(You knew that was coming, didn't you?)
The air, oh, that air. It (gasp) has (ack) a certain Cream of Wheat quality to it.
Not surprisingly, it became a brief topic of discussion during the USA news conference this afternoon.
"For me personally," Abby Wambach said, "it hasn't really changed the way I've played, the way it has affected my lungs, and I can probably speak for the rest of us....."
She was then interrupted, coincidentally or not, by Coach Greg Ryan coughing. "Left over from Shanghai," Ryan said, smiling.
".....we do train in L.A.," she continued, "and we've just been training in many different cities, we travel all over the world, so we don't really feel like anything is going to affect us, weather wise."
When Abby's playing career is over, she has a future in diplomacy.
From a 2005 German study:
The air quality in Tianjin has worsened during the past decades due to its functioning as a heavy industrial center. The national air quality standards are exceeded most frequently for dust, SO2 and CO. The major sources of air pollution are coal smoke and wind-blown dust, with the rapid growth in automobile pollution. But thanks to the environmental regulations and pollution control measures, air quality has improved slightly over the recent years.
So there is hope for a deep breath someday. Just not today. By the way, Tianjin will be a venue for Olympic soccer next summer.
Anyway, with the USA-England quarterfinal a day away (8 a.m. Eastern, ESPN2), click here to read about increasing parity in the women's game and how it has impacted the U.S. team. And be sure to check back at washingtonpost.com late Friday/early Saturday for my story on the status of women's soccer in England.
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