The most impressive thing has been meeting the USA basketball dream team. I love basketball – if I have time I always watch the NBA. (I used to play a little bit in the school team just for fun, but once I was invited to the National Junior Team.)
So back to the story... we had dinner in the dining hall together with my coach. And suddenly we see some athletes running with cameras. We were wondering what was happening, then I turned my head and I saw Kobe Bryant !!!!!!
He was walking to the table with some food from McDonald's. Actually all of them were eating McDonald's. :-)
After I saw Lebron James and other players too. It was something unbelievable!!!!!
So many athletes were taking pictures of them while they eat, can you imagine what happened when they finished with their food !!!!!!!!
I have to say they were very nice to everyone. I respect them even more after that. At that moment I realize how popular they are !!! They are real stars !!!!
On to the opening ceremony!!!!!! I have been waiting for this day for all my life. Even now when I'm writing, I feel very emotional. As a little child I watched some of the opening ceremonies on TV, and now I can step out on the field myself for the first time in my life. I will never forget this day. It is so special.
As you all know it started at 08.08.08. (8pm, 8 min !!!) But we started much earlier.
Every country got their number according to the Chinese alphabet so Uzbekistan got No. 35, which means we are going 35th in the parade.
We left the athletes village around 6 pm and we were waiting in order almost two hours in a very nice gymnasium.
I looked around and I saw the Ukrainian team next to us, and the Belarussian team just opposite. And of course I know the tennis players from there. We all found each other :-) There were the Bondarenko sisters, Tatiana Perebiynis, Mariya Koryttseva from the Ukraine and Darya Kustova, Tatiana Poutchek, Victoria Azarenka and Olga Govortsova from Belarus. So we all started to take pictures, exchanging pins and just walking around the place. We all enjoyed the moment so much.
Around 9 pm, they started to call the countries and we left the place to go to the main stadium. We were going very slowly taking pictures and videos. I think it took us more than an hour to arrive at the main gate.
And finally we were there !!!!!!!!!!!! I turned back to my coach and I just smiled. My heart started to beat very fast, and I forgot that I was tired and sweating so much.
They say the name of our country and we step out in the field. IT’S AMAZING!!!!! We all had little flags in our hands and waved to all the people there. After that we came closer to the stand where our President Islam Karimov was sitting. He stood up and we waved.
We made one big round and we got to our place on the field.
Imagine – we were No. 35 and in total there were 206 countries. So we had a very, very long wait. Everyone was very tired and soon we all sat down on the ground and were watching everything on the big screen.
This is the moment when the whole world comes together. All the athletes just mix and sat down together no matter which nationality, race, religion.
I don't think I can find right words to describe the Olympic fire ceremony. I thought the torch bearer was just going to go and fire it up. But I was wrong. We all were wrong, he started to run. It was so high! All the athletes who still were sitting down all stood up. We all didn't believe what we saw at that moment !!!!
I forgot that I have so much pain in my legs. I forgot that we are here on the field for nearly four hours (seven hours with all other stuff). I forgot that I 'm so thirsty. I was just feeling so happy to be here to be part of something great.
My coach told me, "Thank you, Akgul, because of you I'm here too "
At night we came back to the village very late. We ate a little bit and I went to sleep.
You know the feeling when you remember something and smile in the darkness? I had this kind of smile on my face that night.