Student watches U.S. athletes win Olympic medals


    Ni hao, Wildcats!
    I am writing this column from my seat in the national stadium at the 2008 Beijing Olympic Games. Commonly called the “Bird’s Nest” here in the People’s Republic of China, I sat in this massive arena surrounded by spectators from every corner of the globe who tirelessly cheered on athletes from their home nations.
    I have just seen the fastest man in the world — Jamaica’s Usain Bolt — and his teammates set a world record in the men’s 4-by-100 meter  relay, and I’ve heard the cries of excitement ring off the arena’s walls.
    Several days later, I thought back on the once-in-a-lifetime experience I’d had at the Olympic Games. As I watched the best athletes in the world perform on their international stage, I was impressed by their talents and dedication in events like the pole vault, javelin throw and long jump.
    When the U.S.’ Brian Clay received his gold medal for triumphing in the decathlon, I sung my heart out to our national anthem, a moment I will never forget.
    The previous evening, I had attended the gold medal matches of men’s freestyle wrestling. I was a wrestler in high school, so I understood the intimate details of what the athletes were feeling and thinking.
    During the final bout between Georgia and Russia, the crowd was bouncing with anticipation. At the sound of the final buzzer everyone was on their feet celebrating the victory of the Georgian.
    These men had left the political problems of their conflicting nations behind; their handshake at the end of the match seemed truly sincere and helped me visualize an important aspect of the Olympic Games: Bringing the world together in a time of so much divisiveness.
    The Chinese Olympics committee has chosen the words “One World, One Dream” as their 2008 Olympics motto. It is my dream to see that world realized. 
    I will be staying in the People’s Republic of China for four months, and during that time I hope to acquire a glimpse of the mindset that the average Chinese citizen holds toward his fellow man and his government.
    I already have made significant progress by simply sitting on the side streets eating ice cream with local children and regularly practicing Tai Chi with an elderly couple in the park.
    My intensive language classes will give me a tool to reach out to an ancient civilization that is quickly transforming into a world power.
    I also will take governmental, political and legal classes from local professors to help me work toward my final goal of a career in international nuclear policy.
    If you knew me in Manhattan, you might remember the skip in my step and the smile on my face. As an Olympic audience member and a Shanghai University student, I honestly can say that my skip and smile have never been bigger.

Samuel Brinton is a junior in mechanical and nuclear engineering and vocal music performance. Please send comments to