Peking duck is coming in a distant second in the Olympic Village’s popularity contest. It seems that Roger’s little visit to the athletes’ food court today caused such a ruckus that observers doubt that Roger actually got to eat. And to think I felt bad for Juan Martin del Potro, who had about three little kids ask him for autographs at the Countrywide Classic this afternoon while he waited for his California Pizza Kitchen (L.A.’s version of Peking Duck, you ask? NAH! It’s all about the taco trucks and In and Out Burger!)
Anyways, here are some first hand reports from Beijing:
From The Age (click here for their full report on the Olympic Village – disco! pizza! MRIs!)
IT WAS a fascinating sight … Roger Federer struggling to eat his lunch while Cuban boxers sparred on outdoor tennis courts and Latvian beach volleyballers were playing pool.
Welcome to life in the athletes’ inner sanctum – the Olympic village providing a safe haven for them away from the public and media spotlight.
This virtual mini city, located within walking distance of the Bird’s Nest and Water Cube, has 42 accommodation buildings where 16,000 athletes, officials and coaching staff live and sleep.
Key Hockeyroos team member Hope Munro, sipping on a strong black coffee, described the aura of tennis superstar Federer when he dropped into the dining hall yesterday.
“I felt sorry for the guy. All he wanted to do was eat his lunch and star athletes from all over the world kept lining up to get his autograph or their photo taken with him,” Munro said.
This one covers Nadal, too. (Click here for the full story from The Australian.)
Wimbledon champion Rafael Nadal, who arrived on Monday, was ribbed by Spanish teammates when he failed to take his food tray with him as he left the table at the communal dining hall.
“You are not a star here,” one Spanish athlete said.
Both Nadal and world No1 Roger Federer were mobbed on arrival by athletes from around the world who spend a lifetime trying to earn what these tennis stars can collect in earnings after an early-round exit at a tournament.
Federer came under siege again when he went to the dining room, with fellow athletes wanting to get his autograph and pose for photos.
Two members of the Hockeyroos, striker Hope Monroe and Teneal Attard, who were in the dining room at the time, decided to keep a dignified distance, as did fellow Australians.
“You kind of feel sorry for the poor guy,” Monroe said.
“He just wants to eat his lunch and he has a thousand people around him.
“I don’t know if he actually got his lunch.
“We Australians are all pretty good like that. Obviously you are starstruck and you are in awe of them, but I don’t think it’s appropriate to put him in that position.”
It’s kind of sad to read how these innately down-to-earth, friendly guys are having to become more isolated and withdrawn, just to keep their sanity. And then we rip on them for being elitist. I guess being rich and famous really is a drag!
Just please, everyone, let Roger eat his Peking duck in peace!
For more random photos like the one above, click here.