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UPDATED WORLD CHAMPIONSHIPS JOURNAL: The daily routine in Budapest



BUDAPEST, Hungary - This is my eighth World Championships as the communications manager for USA Wrestling and each trip has been a memorable experience.

Each day is very busy, and you try to follow a similar routine each day to stay on task during a long, grueling seven-day event.

My day usually starts when my alarm goes off on my iPhone around 8 a.m. I brush my teeth, shave and take a shower at the Best Western hotel we are staying in here.

It's been a great hotel, with big rooms and a nice big comfortable queen-sized bed. It's reassuring to stay in a hotel that is a U.S. chain with some familiarity. My roommate and colleague, Richard Immel, had to take the couch but he's a rookie here.

I usually grab breakfast at 9 a.m. They have a huge ballroom where they serve a massive breakfast every day with about everything you can think of. I had eggs, sausage, french toast, orange juice and coffee this morning. Many of the teams competing here - including Azerbaijan, Sweden, Lithuania, Mexico, France, Belarus, Korea, Iran, Poland, Spain, Georgia and Ukraine - are staying in our hotel.

Having a good, and edible, breakfast each day is essential on these trips. With long days at the arena, you never know when you are going to have time to eat again.

After breakfast, I grab my jacket and computer bag and hop on the 10 a.m. shuttle bus to the venue.

There were only two passengers on our bus this morning. It was myself and Ingemar, a Greco-Roman coach from Sweden. Ingemar actually wrestled two of our coaches, Momir Petkovic and Dan Chandler, during his competitive career. Sweden heavyweight Johan Euren, an Olympic bronze medalist last year, has a chance to do well today.

Today I was the second person to arrive in the media tribune. A journalist from Germany was the first. I hook up the computer, make the sure the Internet is working (which it is obviously since you are reading this). I write my journal entry, look through the brackets of today's competition, grab start sheets which list the order of matches and then make myself available to help the U.S. media who are here.

We also check in with the coaches and anyone else in the U.S. delegation who might need our help with any communications issues.

One of the Iranian broadcasters stopped by and gave me some cashews, pistachios and almonds this morning. They are very good.

During the first session, which starts at 1 p.m., I write the wrap-up story that appears here on TheMat.com. It is a recap of how the U.S. athletes do, with results on the bottom of the story.

Richard Immel provides updates of the tournament on Twitter in addition to shooting and posting video of the U.S. matches. He also provides information on USA Wrestling's popular Facebook page.

Our boss, Gary Abbott, deserves the hustle award. He shoots match video, conducts video interviews, connects our athletes with the media, covers weigh-ins, writes a story about the U.S. draws, and posts results at the end of the day.

During the finals, I write another wrap-up story and take over the Twitter updates while Richard shoots video of all the finals matches regardless of whether an American is wrestling or not. We want our fans to be able to watch all of the medal matches.

We usually wrap up our duties around 10 p.m. The shuttle buses have stopped running by then, so we walk over to a nearby subway station and take the underground train one stop to our hotel.

We then grab dinner, usually at the Italian joint near out hotel. It has great food, but not so great service. We decided to hit an even better restaurant, the one I mentioned a few days ago on here that is similar to a Hu Hot Mongolian Grill in the U.S. It was very good, although someone accidentally grabbed Gary's food and he had to convince the chef to grill him another plate of food.

After dinner, we typically retreat to the hotel. I return a few messages and e-mails, talk to a few friends on Facebook and then crash for the night.

They are very long days, but it's great to have an opportunity to represent my county as part of the Team USA delegation.

Americans Ellis Coleman, Andy Bisek and Robbie Smith are up today on the final day of the tournament.

GO USA!

Sept. 22

BUDAPEST, Hungary - The U.S. women's wrestling team had reason to celebrate at the World Championships on Friday night.

The American squad turned in a solid performance to finish third in the team standings. The U.S. won three bronze medals and turned in a fifth-place finish.

Elena Pirozhkova and Adeline Gray each won their third World medals, and Alyssa Lampe won her second. Victoria Anthony, despite wrestling up a weight class, nearly reached the finals before placing fifth in her first Senior Worlds.

It was a good performance, but not a great performance. Coach Terry Steiner and his team were proud to take home a team trophy, but it's not the one they wanted.

The U.S. has a talented, experienced team that will be a force in this four-year Olympic cycle. They are fully capable of winning a World team title next year.

It's a great group of girls who work hard and are very coachable.

Can't wait to see how this group performs in the next three years.

Sept. 20

BUDAPEST, Hungary - I'm running out of material for this journal so today I'm leading with the Budapest Bull, the official mascot of the 2013 World Championships.

The Bull has received its share of feedback - good and bad - from the people here in Budapest and from the people watching him on the Webcast back home.

The Bull's main role is dancing between matches in the medal rounds, trying to keep the crowd fired up during the finals. I was told that they have a different person wearing the Bull costume each of the seven nights of this event.

I ran into the Bull out on the concourse yesterday. He was posing for numerous photos with fans, so I snapped a quick photo of him with my iPhone that appears with this story.

I wasn't a big fan of the Bull initially, but I am starting to come around. He is growing on me a little bit. He had me laughing last night with some of his antics. Maybe I was laughing because it was so ridiculous, I don't know.

The Bull was part of a cool scene last night, celebrating when Hungary's Marianna Sastin won a World title and the home crowd went crazy. The best part was seeing and hearing that many people being so excited about women's wrestling.

My boss, Gary Abbott, said the Bull mascot actually took his head off while standing on the floor during the session last night. I thought that was forbidden for mascots to reveal their identity, but we are in Hungary.

Ran into Olympic gold medalist Carol Huyhn of Canada at breakfast this morning. As many of you know, Carol was one of wrestling's presenters before the key International Olympic Committee votes in St. Petersburg, Russia in May and in Buenos Aires, Argentina 11 days ago.

Carol delivered outstanding speeches in both settings. She is a super young lady with an outgoing, magnetic personality. She was signing an autograph for a couple from Wisconsin, who is here on vacation. I told Carol I wanted her autograph for the outstanding work she has done for our sport.

We thought so highly of Carol we made her our Wrestler of the Week last week. That honor typically goes to an American, but we wanted to reward Carol for her amazing contributions to help keep wrestling in the Olympic Games.

We had our best meal of the trip last night when we went to a local restaurant that is comparable to a Hu Hot Mongolian Grill in the U.S. You pick out what ingredients you want, like in a salad bar, but in this setting the choices are beef, pork, chicken, lamb and various vegetables. You then give your plate of food to a chef, who cooks it on a large, flat metal grill. It was very tasty!

Gary Abbott, myself, USA Wrestling's Richard Immel, Amateur Wrestling News editor Jason Bryant and Wrestlers Are Warriors photographer Tony Rotundo were treated to an excellent dinner after another long day of wrestling.

Adeline Gray, Veronica Carlson and Spenser Mango step on the mat today for the U.S. The Americans have three medals so far. Maybe we can double that total today!

GO USA!

Sept. 19

BUDAPEST, Hungary - What more can you say about Jordan Burroughs?

The guy is simply incredible.

Just when you think he can't top what he's done previously, Burroughs does something even more impressive.

In what has to be one of best performances in U.S. wrestling history, Burroughs captured a gold medal at the World Championships on Wednesday night.

Sure, Burroughs was heavily favored to win here after striking gold at the 2011 Worlds and 2012 Olympics.

But Burroughs broke his ankle less than a month ago while training at the U.S. Olympic Training Center in Colorado Springs. He had surgery the next day and was off the mat for two weeks. He rode the bike, lifted weights and climbed ropes to stay in shape.

He didn't wrestle live until he arrived in Budapest last week.

And then he stepped on the mat Wednesday and outscored his five opponents 34-3 to win a gold medal.

The guy is Superman and Iron Man rolled into one.

And he's now stamped himself as one of the best wrestlers in America's storied history.

The best news is he's not done yet. Burroughs just turned 25 in July and he's halfway to John Smith's amazing record of six straight World and Olympic titles.

He showed amazing composure when his opponents employed aggressive and sometimes dirty tactics to try and rattle him. But Burroughs kept his cool and adeptly handled any adversity that came his way. His lip was bloodied early in the day and was noticeably swollen by the time he won gold.

Jordan is a great young man who is simply a joy to work with. He is a master with the media. He's very articulate and charismatic.

When a tournament official tried to cut his post-match interview short, Jordan asked the guy to let him answer a couple more questions for the media who were interviewing him.

He's a special talent and a special person. He's a great representative of the sport and he's the type of personality who can definitely help wrestling get into the mainstream media.

He's come a long way since going 1-2 at his first NCAA tournament as a freshman at Nebraska.

Jordan keeps getting better, and that's a scary prospect for his international opponents.

Can't wait to see what happens next with the great Jordan Burroughs.

Sept. 18

BUDAPEST, Hungary - Six weight classes have been contested over the first two days of the World Championships.

And none of the medal ceremonies have included an American.

We are hoping that changes in a big way today. Jordan Burroughs and Alyssa Lampe, both ranked No. 1 in the World, will take the mat today along with Victoria Anthony.

Burroughs, of course, is the face of American wrestling. He's won Olympic and World titles, and owns a perfect 60-0 record on the Senior level. He is one of the best pound-for-pound competitors on the planet.

The freestyle team still hasn't won a medal after two fifth-place finishes over the first two days.

Lampe won a World bronze medal last year, despite wrestling up a weight class. She is back at her best weight now and is looking very strong. She knows she can win on this stage now.

Anthony is a two-time Junior World champion who is competing in her first Senior Worlds. She is wrestling up a weight class, but don't count her out here. Like Anthony, she wrestles very aggressively and is a dangerous wrestler who can put points on the board.

Veteran journalist Bill May, covering his 999th World Championships, keeps me entertained on these trips. Bill is extremely knowledgeable about international wrestling, and he also is a very funny guy. He grew up in Minnesota and is part Japanese. He was telling me about a new wave of talented Japanese women's wrestlers on the horizon. We will see two of them today.

Bill also has become a huge fan of the dancing bull mascot here in Budapest. He said it reminded him of the baseball movie, "Bull Durham."

USA Wrestling's Richard Immel is not a big fan of the vending machines here. His thirst was not quenched after unsuccessful attempts to buy a drink in beverage machines in the hotel and the arena. Richard said the machines would not accept his money. Our boss, Gary Abbott, joked to Richard that his American quarters would probably not work in those machines.

I was running low on money, so I found a bank across the street from the hotel. I never thought I would withdraw 20,000 from an ATM, but that's what I did today. Of course, 20,000 Forint converts to only about 88 U.S. dollars.

We need some medals, and hopefully we win three today.

GO USA!

Sept. 17

BUDAPEST, Hungary - We are back in the arena for Day 2 of the World Championships and the Internet is working.

That wasn't the case for much of the day yesterday.

Internet issues in the press tribune made for a very long day, especially when we are trying to provide instantaneous information to the people back home.

The problem seemed to be resolved late in the day, but we will see what happens today.

Our communications team of Gary Abbott, myself and Richard Immel were the first ones to arrive in the press tribune again today. We were also the last ones to leave last night. We take a lot of pride in what we do and want to provide you with the best coverage we can.

The arena we are in is very nice, but it either doesn't have air conditioning or they don't want to turn it on. It was very warm in here yesterday with people continually trying to fan themselves. That makes for a long and uncomfortable day for those of us trying to cover the event.

The U.S. fell short of winning a medal on Day 1, and is looking to change its fortunes with Reece Humphrey, Keith Gavin and Tervel Dlagnev taking the mat.

Tervel placed third in this event in 2009 and fifth in 2011. Look for the big man to contend for a medal today.

The U.S. needs someone to provide a spark today.

GO USA!

Sept. 16

BUDAPEST, Hungary - We have arrived at the Papp Laszlo Sports Arena for the first session of the seven-day World Championships.

We encountered our first challenge when security would not allow us to enter the venue when we arrived at 10:30 a.m. The wrestling starts at 1 p.m., but we need to get to the arena early to prepare for our coverage of the event.

There is no assigned seating, so we arrive early to secure seats in the press tribune, make sure the Internet is working and be here to help our U.S. media with their needs.

After about 15 minutes of "negotiating" and pleading our case with the security folks, they finally agreed to let us in. They allowed team doctor Fred Roberto into the facility as well after initially telling him he couldn't go in. Luckily, the security chief speaks English and he agreed to let us in.

This was the first time since I started covering the World Championships in 2006 that we've encountered this issue.

We found seats right in the middle of what is a beautiful, 10,000-seat area. Photographers Tony Rotundo and Larry Slater of the U.S. were allowed in as well. Flowrestling also is here with Joe Williamson, Mark Bader, Willie Saylor and Adam Fenn.

Jason Bryant is here from the U.S. as well, and he will provide play-by-by on the FILA broadcast. Past World silver medalist and Olympian Jake Herbert is set to do color commentary.

Gary Abbott, Richard Immel and I will be providing coverage for USA Wrestling and TheMat.com. We will be providing stories, results, video interviews and video of matches along with updates on Twitter and Facebook. A live stream of all four mats also will be available. Click the link in our World Championships Special Section to watch the action live.

I encountered another minor issue this morning. I noticed when I was getting dressed this morning that the belt that I had packed wasn't in my suitcase. Luckily, there was a store called Men's Fashion right across the street from the hotel. I found a belt for about 4,500 Forint, which converts to about 20 U.S. dollars.

So we are all set to go with Angel Escobedo, Brent Metcalf and J.D. Bergman taking the mat here shortly. Those guys are all capable of earning a spot on the medal podium today.

GO USA!

Sept. 16

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 city's famous 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 sampled 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 his long tenure with the U.S. Olympic Committee and he has played a huge role in the Olympic fight as well.

GO USA!

Sept. 14

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.

Sept. 13

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.

Sept. 12

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.
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