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UPDATED WORLD CHAMPIONSHIPS JOURNAL: Great day checking out Budapest
BUDAPEST, Hungary - There is not an abundance of time for sightseeing on a trip like this, so we tried to take full advantage of having a free morning today.
Richard Immel, Jason Bryant and I took the subway to the downtown area of Budapest, and it was more than worth the trip.
We witnessed spectacular scenery with the all the gorgeous architecture found in the area that runs along the Danube River.
We saw the historic castle, along with numerous other historic structures in an awesome setting. They had a huge festival going on with bands and dancing by the locals.
We walked up the stairs to the area near the castle and saw some incredible views of the city.
We capped our trek by sitting down to a great lunch. I had to sample some of the Hungarian staple, goulash, and it was outstanding. Jason and Richard had fried pork chops stuffed with sausage, vegetables and cheeses. I sample a little bit of that, and it was very good as well.
Back to work now. Our first three athletes - Angel Escobedo, Brent Metcalf and J.D. Bergman - weigh in this afternoon and receive their draws for the start of the tournament tomorrow.
We also will be covering a press conference with new FILA President Nenad Lalovic. Looking forward to finally seeing him in person. Lalovic did an amazing job in helping keep wrestling in the Olympic Games.
Great to see FILA press officer Bob Condron this afternoon. I worked with Bob during the long tenure with the U.S. Olympic Committee and he has played a huge role in the Olympic fight as well.
We have arrived in Budapest.
Twenty-plus hours, one car, three airplanes and one taxi later, we made it to our hotel. We are staying in a Best Western here. We arrived here at 10 a.m. on Saturday and will not be able to check in until 2 p.m.
It is raining here, just like it was when we left Colorado Springs early Friday morning. This is an old European city with some interesting architecture. We spotted numerous Burger King and McDonald's restaurants on our ride to the hotel. We actually ate a late lunch at a McDonald's near out hotel and it was probably better than the Mickey Dees we have back home.
The 8-hour, 20-minute, United Airlines flight from Chicago to Frankfurt, Germany went very smoothly. There obviously is a ton of time to kill during a flight that takes you over the Atlantic Ocean.
I watched two very good movies - 42 and The Internship - during the first half of the flight. I then watched three television shows - Entourage, Two And a Half Men and Two Broke Girls. I finished off the flight by listening to some John Lennon, Rolling Stones, Pink Floyd and Guns and Roses. A young couple asked me to switch seats after we boarded and I was very happy to trade my middle seat for a window seat.
Ran into a familiar face at the airport in Frankfurt when we connected with past World silver medalist and 2012 Olympian Jake Herbert.
Jake was on our last flight, a short 90-minute trek from Frankfurt to Budapest. He is running for a spot on the FILA Athlete Commission and may do a little broadcasting for the event as well. He stepped away from competition this year after being hampered by knee and shoulder injuries.
Jake, Gary Abbott, Richard Immel and I piled into a cab for about a 30-minute ride from the airport to the hotel.
I became a little concerned when the meter ran past 3,000, then past 4,000, 5,000 and 6,000. The total cab fare was 6,750 Forint, the Hungarian currency. Fortunately, 1 U.S. dollar equals .0044 Forint so the cab ride wasn't nearly as bad as it seemed. It cost me around 30 bucks.
We have a day to acclimate here and adjust to the time change. Budapest is eight hours ahead of Mountain Time.
Our first three wrestlers - Angel Escobedo, Brent Metcalf and J.D. Bergman - will weigh-in tomorrow and receive their draws. The seven-day tournament is scheduled to start on Monday.
A number of teams are staying in our hotel. We have already seen teams from Azerbaijan, Iran and China in the hotel lobby.
We rode over to the practice venue today and caught up with the freestyle team during its workout. Olympic and World champion Jordan Burroughs was among those looking good for the U.S. Chatted briefly with JB after his workout, and he said he feels great and he will be ready to go when he competes on Wednesday.
Cadet World champion Aaron Pico was also working out with our team on Saturday afternoon. Aaron is a super young man with tremendous talent and an even better attitude.
We received our press credentials for the event and have already received the access to areas we need to provide coverage for our American fans back home. Gaining the access we need is often a challenge at an event like this, so we are off to a good start in that area.
Our 20-plus hour road odyssey from Colorado Springs to Budapest is underway.
As I write this, I am sitting in Seat 3B on a United Airlines flight from the Springs to Chicago’s O’Hare International Airport.
We left the heavy rains, the worst I’ve seen in my 7½ years in Colorado, behind and I am looking out my window at beautiful blue skies right now.
My boss, Gary Abbott, is two seats ahead of me but he is being pampered with his first-class seat. He made sure to inform me that he was in first class after he went through security. I told him the seating from front to back should not be in alphabetical order.
Richard Immel, the third member of our communications team, is sleeping in a window seat near the back of the plane. Richard has done a great job managing our social media, and he is making his first overseas flight. He said he was worried about flying over the ocean for the first time. You’re not in Oklahoma any more, Son!
Sleep is a precious commodity on long, grueling trips like this where you journey halfway around the globe. I was up at 5 a.m. this morning, and our flight left Colorado at 7:40 a.m. I actually feel great right now despite a short night of sleep. We will see how long that lasts.
Gary, Richard and I attended the U.S. Olympic Committee communications seminar yesterday before finishing the day at a dinner the USOC hosted last night at the Country Club of Colorado.
I was very proud to represent wrestling at the USOC meetings, as I always am, especially after our sport won the vote to be a provisional sport in the 2020 and 2024 Olympics.
We received an abundance of congratulatory wishes from USOC staff members along with numerous others who work in communications for other Olympic sports. Those words and comments are very much appreciated.
I had lunch yesterday at the Olympic Training Center cafeteria with public relations legends Craig Miller of USA Basketball, Leslie King of USA Gymnastics and Tom Kelly of USA Skiing. They were very curious about how we developed and executed our public relations plan during the Olympic fight. They asked some great questions and we had some excellent dialogue about what we did.
We work side-by-side with many of those people on the USOC press staff when the U.S. competes at the Olympics and the Pan American Games. It was fun to see a lot of familiar faces at the Olympic Training Center yesterday.
This flight has been very smooth. Hope that is a good sign. I will post this journal entry when we land in Chicago.
We have a short layover in Chicago before embarking on an 8-plus hour flight to Frankfurt, Germany. We then follow with a 90-minute flight from Frankfurt to Budapest.
Richard and I sampled a little Chicago style deep-dish pizza for lunch. It will be our last U.S. meal in 10 days.
This will be a long day of travel, but I’m very grateful to have a job where I receive opportunities to see the world. I’m excited to see what this trip has in store for us.
Excitement is definitely building for the 2013 FILA World Wrestling Championships in Budapest, Hungary.
I have covered a World Championships every year I’ve been at USA Wrestling since witnessing my first Worlds in 2006 in Guangzhou, China.
It is always a great event with unbelievable wrestling and compelling storylines. The Worlds are different from the Olympic Games in that countries do not have to qualify. That obviously makes the field considerably larger with more than 50 wrestlers in some weight classes.
The stakes obviously are higher at the Olympics, with it being only once every four years, but in some ways winning Worlds is more difficult. With the larger field, a wrestler may have to win five or six matches to earn a gold medal as opposed to gaining four wins in the Olympics.
The year after the Olympics is always interesting as well with numerous athletes retiring, paving the way for bright young stars to make a run at the top of the World medal podium.
With wrestling's nearly seven-month fight to stay on the Olympic program, our staff hasn’t had as much time to prepare for the Worlds this year. But we are prepared to provide coverage from every angle that we are permitted to.
Our communications team, with Gary Abbott, myself and World Championships rookie Richard Immel, are scheduled to travel overseas on Friday.
We are scrambling, as usual, with last-minute preparations with packing and everything else. The biggest concern is making sure we don’t forget anything, including our passport. We will keep our fingers crossed that our luggage makes it through the three flights we have. I will carry a smaller suitcase onto the plane to make sure I have something to wear just in case something goes awry.
All three U.S. World Teams are already overseas making final preparations for the event. The men’s freestyle team held an acclimation camp in Minsk, Belarus before moving on to Budapest. Freestyle will compete first, followed by women’s freestyle and Greco-Roman.
The women’s freestyle team traveled to Paris, France to acclimate before it will move to Hungary. The Greco-Roman team went right to Budapest from the U.S.
I’m looking forward to traveling to Budapest. The Worlds were here in 2005, and people on our staff that were there said they enjoyed their stay in the European city.
Our communications team is scheduled to fly out of Colorado Springs early Friday morning. We will fly to Chicago before heading across the Atlantic Ocean to Frankfurt, Germany and then on to Budapest. We will have a day to acclimate to the time change and check out the venue before the first of seven days of competition begins on Monday.
I have been fortunate to witness some memorable moments in my experiences at the Worlds.
At my first Worlds in 2006, Americans Bill Zadick and Joe Warren won titles in China. The next year, the U.S. Greco-Roman squad won the team championship at the 2007 Worlds in Baku, Azerbaijan. In 2008, Clarissa Chun won a World title in Tokyo, Japan.
Jordan Burroughs captured a gold medal at the 2011 Worlds in Istanbul, Turkey before Adeline Gray and Elena Pirozhkova won 2012 World titles in Edmonton, Canada.
Burroughs, Gray and Pirozhkova are all scheduled to wrestle in Budapest.
Seeing our athletes reach the top of the podium is something that obviously never gets old. It is very special and very moving to see someone accomplish their goals.
The U.S. is sending a strong 21-member squad to Budapest. Let’s hope we hear the Star-Spangled Banner being played and the U.S. flag being raised a few times over the next week.
This is a very exciting time for our sport with wrestling now guaranteed a spot in the Olympics through at least 2024. New leadership, new rules and a new approach have already made international wrestling much more appealing, entertaining and relevant.
Let’s hope we capitalize on the momentum we have now and continue to make positive changes moving forward with our great sport.