The Wheeler

Chapter Eight

When it came time for the state championships again it was almost a repeat of the previous year, but now we all were competing against older and more seasoned competitors, but as the high school swim coach told us, we were now among the older and more seasoned competitors ourselves. That really put things into perspective for those of us who had just moved up from the middle school.

We worked out as a team, swimming and floor exercises both, and by the third day of the state championship meet we were assured a second-place win, with one more day to get ahead of the other top team. As before it would come down to just how well we divers performed to determine the top position in the state. We entered the natatorium to find one of our biggest supporters there waiting for Josh and me. Greg had shown up with his husband Johnny and we delighted in introducing them to our teammates, some who had met Greg the year before, but half the team hadn't until that day. He talked to us like an older brother/coach and he was right there for each and every one of us as we prepared for our dives, sharing that experience with our coach. It was well known he was our Olympic mentor, and this was allowed because of that. He hadn't seen our cannonball spin dive yet, but when we put it in as the next to last of our dives, he went apeshit (oops!! sorry) over it. Our last dive would be our 69 dive which pushed us so far ahead there wasn't a chance of anyone besting us. We had secured our team's lead in the state championships again with the help of our great diving team members. Greg made us promise to show our Olympic coach, whom we hadn't met yet, that dive and our cannonball as soon as we could.

Little did we know that opportunity would come sooner than we thought. The following week started off our winter break which gave us Christmas week and a few days after New Year's off from school. We, along with Jason, had plans for that week between the holidays. We had all spoken to Terry's therapists and devised a water workout for him and this was the week we were going to start working with him in the water, along with Theresa, the therapist Josh and I had worked with.

We spent the first few days at our pool, giving Terry a private place to start off with. He was so eager to please everyone that we were afraid he'd tire himself out, so we interspersed some floor exercises and short rest periods, but he hung in there and by the end of it he was so pumped to be able to complete all the exercises, both floor and water that we all had put him through. He asked if we were too tired to show him some dives and since Josh and I were never too tired to do some of our favorites, we showed him some of the lower end dives we used in competitions.

After a few afternoons of working out in our pool, Jason suggested that since Terry was doing so well that we ought to take him over to the Swim Center where the pool was much wider, and the diving platform was higher to give Josh and me more of a workout.  The next day we all met at the swim center and began our workouts as usual and then once in the water Josh and I left the other three so Terry could begin his water therapy. Josh and I worked on our intermediate dives before Terry called from the other end" Cannonball, Cannonball" and soon most everyone in the place was echoing the call and were converging to poolside to see us perform our new optional dive in tandem.

Once in position on the 10-meter platform, we got into place easily and launched ourselves up high enough to get in the ball position before we even came back in line with the platform and we had begun our first rotation. We rotated four times and then straightened out to make a vertical, almost totally splashless entry into the water. It felt like the best we had ever done that one and even underwater we could hear a change in the noise, which signaled a roaring crowd.

We exited the pool to cheering and rounds of applause, but there wasn't a happier face than Terry's, unless it was the man standing on the apron of the pool with Tony and Jerry, the owners of the swim center, and Stan was once again there with his video camera. Tony and Jerry introduced us to Mr. Chad Morgan, our assigned coach for the upcoming Olympic diving team. Apparently, he had called the house and Ian had told him where we were and he got directions and decided to meet us here at the swim center.

He enthused about our cannonball dive and asked to see the one we had won our state championships with, the one that Greg had told him we called the 69 dive. We synced and told him sure, it wouldn't take us but a minute to get back up the platform. We did our dive for him and he said it was spectacular, he had never seen it done with the flips in it, or done so cleanly.  Mr. Morgan was actually just passing through and when he saw he was close to Granby he took the chance and drove here to meet us. He told us he was definitely looking forward to having us on the team and that we'd meet again at the training facility chosen for the team to work out in before we all flew together to Japan probably at the beginning of July to have a week or two to further gel as a team and to get used to the venue.

He told us he was pleased to have met us and that he was looking forward to working with us, and our mentor, Greg. He took his leave then, having to get back on the road to be at an event at a college in Connecticut in the morning, so we thanked him for stopping and that now we had a face to go with his name and he was off on his way back to I 95 South, on his way to the event in Connecticut he was to attend.

When Tony and Jerry had cleared the platform area, they talked to us about what Mr. Morgan had said about our diving and they thought his comments about us being "naturals", and "fearless" were good comments and boded well for us at training with the other competitors, but they also gave us really good advice. Be friendly with our teammates, but as far as the diving squad went, try not to get too close to our diving teammates, we had to remember that they were for the most part after medals and glory, yes, there would be guys just as nice as we were there, but we were to listen to Greg, we were not to go anywhere on our own, Greg or one of the assistant coaches was to accompany us everywhere, even the locker room or the restroom. They had seen a lot of things they wished they hadn't seen in their own years of competing, and in the, now many years their swim center had hosted competitions, they wanted us to be safe.

We both sobered up a bit at that but we did thank them for not treating us like little kids and at least giving us a warning. I guessed we hadn't thought about stuff like they had talked about, but it made us think, and I remember some of the competitors at some of our competitions were acting kind of strange toward us after they could see we were competition for them. We'd have to talk to our parents about this, along with Greg, before we left for training camp in a couple of months.

It was back to our friends and making sure that Terry got a full workout. There was a smaller therapy pool just opened at the center and Jerry and Tony had made sure it was roomy enough for a client and their therapist to work out in, and then some, it could actually accommodate up to four or five clients and sets of therapists at a time and since Terry was the only one assigned to that pool that afternoon there was plenty of room for all of us to be working with Terry.

Theresa was very pleased with the improvements Terry was achieving, his leg strength improving, and his balance was way better than even just a couple of weeks ago. Jason was about as happy as Terry was and a lot of the credit for all this improvement was, to our way of thinking, Terry's wanting to be as mobile as Jason, wanting to be his equal, his boyfriend and eventual lover. Listening to Jason, that was Jason's goal as well.

Now, with only two months to go before the end of school, and our departure for Olympic diving training camp, we found our end of the year exams, and essays, staring us in the face. We both had what we felt was a well-rounded life, I mean, we did our school work, really well I might add, and we led trail rides several times a week. Both Josh and I loved riding with our brothers, and we often took them on unused trails for some added time with them. We also took them into the pool with us when we were doing our workouts at home, but we always asked another person to Lifeguard for them, in case we got so absorbed we missed something the three little guys were up to.

Often Wayne would come and watch over the boys as they tried to mimic our floor exercises and at least two or three times a week Jason and Terry would ride the bus home with us and do our floor exercises with us. There were times another gay couple from school would also join us, and those girls were from our school bus. We talked to our friends as we exercised, or when we really needed to concentrate, they did back off and let us do what we had to do. Twice a week we would focus on the high platform at the Swim Center. There we had the advice of Tony and Jerry, the owners, and Ken and Phil, undoubtedly the best divers who frequented the place (although they claimed we were the best). But none of that stopped them from being critical of something we had done to mess up when we did, and they encouraged us to correct ourselves, sometimes having to show us either themselves or by pulling up a video on one of their iPad.

They were treating our situation the way we had always done, casually. What I mean is they were not acting like a domineering coach or a "stage" father, ranting and yelling. They were more like doting brothers, all four of them, and when it came time for our fathers to plan their trip to Japan to watch us,

Josh and I asked if there would be room enough on their chartered plane for our four unofficial coaches to be included, as well as Terry and Jason. Ian told us then that they had all been taken into consideration already, in fact, just a few weeks ago they had asked all those mentioned to please make sure that they had current passports, just as we all had done last month. They explained that Terry and Jason already had their parents' permission to travel with our family and that Rich Major had already had their parents sign temporary custodial papers so they could travel and be under Ian and Wayne's care and supervision while in a foreign country.

So knowing that all those that meant the most to us would be in attendance added a bit of a boost to our workouts and Josh and I began to pay much more attention to our regular synchronized diving practices. We had learned through emails with Greg that some of our "entangled" dives would not be accepted in the actual competitions, but we would be asked to participate in an exhibition where we could show off our specialty dives which the governing body of the Olympics would then take under consideration for future competitions. We would only be scored on our synchronized side by side dives and individual dives and only those from the 3-meter (9.84 feet) and the 10-meter (33 feet) platforms.

We had plenty of those somewhat mastered, and we concentrated on those that were considered to be of the highest degrees of difficulty for both "acceptable" forms of competition dives. We worked on our lower dives mostly at home, and our highest at the Swim Center and two months later we were at the team training center.

We felt like little kids among all these older teens and grown men, but apparently, videos of us had been seen by all and it was a real boost to us to be asked to let them watch us perform our "specialty" dives during our first team practice. Coach Morgan and Greg had a little con-fab and then both nodded to us and after our warm up, which some of the team members shamefaced told Coach they didn't do anywhere near what we did, we swam down the pool to the platforms at the opposite end as Greg and Coach encouraged the team to watch from either side of the pool, aligned with the expected entry into the water point.

Our first was our cannonball and one of the guys said it wasn't bad, but we had only done two complete revolutions. The others told him he needed to get his eyes checked, that we had spun so fast he couldn't see us revolve all four times. Our entry was spot on, totally vertical and instead of a splash, there was a plop sound as water was sucked from the surface to follow our totally upright bodies entering the water side by side.

While we pulled ourselves out of the water, we did get a boisterous round of applause, and after acknowledging that, we went up the stairs and again off the 10-meter platform, performing our now infamous 69 dive. There were plenty of hoots and hollers and wild clapping after that one, but Greg said after that it was almost necessary for us to do those two dives in front of the team, to let the others know we had earned the right to be there, even at our age.

Coach Morgan was talking to the seated team as we emerged from the water and went to rinse off before joining them. I have to say we were treated a lot better by our teammates and gradually they began to act like older brothers to us. Yes, a lot of them had big egos, but they seemed to mellow out around us as the days went on. I guess either Coach or Greg had told some of the guys some of our past and we were often asked questions about our former handicaps and most were amazed at just how our diving had started during our therapy sessions, and not all that long ago either.

There were attempts to get us alone for interviews, but Coach and Greg had put a stop to that right away, so only interviews with Coach and or Greg in attendance were allowed. On televised interviews, we always said hello to our families and friends back home and our previous coaches. It really was something that we considered a hoot and not something we wanted to be doing for the rest of our school years, or for our lives at that point, but as most self-assured teens, we did like the attention to a certain degree.

We ended up spending at least 6 hours a day, if not more, practicing. Some days there were morning and afternoon sessions and Josh, and I spent a big amount of time in our room watching not only the good dives, but the failed ones on YouTube. It sounds silly I guess, but we really did learn from them, almost as much as we learned from our older teammates and Coach and Greg.

The weekend before we were to fly to Japan with the team our family arrived, not in cars or the van, but in a chartered bus with about 20 other people to give us a good send off. There were mostly friends from our school bus and some of their parents for chaperons. They got to see some of the swimmers work out in trial heats and about an hour later they got to see the entire dive team go through our routines.  They really liked our side by side synchronized dives, but our little brothers wanted to see us do some dives like the 69 and the entwined cannonball.

It was really tough saying goodbye to them all, but Ian, Wayne, Ron, and Tom assured us they would be following us to Japan, just on a flight a few days after ours. They would be staying at a hotel in the Heritage Zone of Tokyo, which shared a boundary with the Tokyo Bay Zone which was mostly built on rectangular islands and was set aside for the Olympic Village, although not all the competitions would be held there, as usual, the venues for the competitions were spread out, but all easily reachable by shuttle buses or trains. We would be housed in the Olympic Village, Josh and I sharing a room on the same floor as the rest of our divers and our swimmers. Greg had a room set aside for him there also as did our coach and other mentors for our athletes.

It was beyond exciting; the whole experience was so different from all of our everyday lives and everyone was very animated even after our long flight. There were English speaking staff at the tower we were shown to and they made check-in very effortless for us; we were informed that there was English speaking custodial staff as well assigned to our floor as well as floors where there were other English-speaking participants in the building. It was a very well-run operation and you could tell the staff was very proud to be working in this brand-new building.

There was no workout scheduled for that first evening, so a bunch of us, along with Coach and a few of the other mentors and Greg went for a stroll with a guide who pointed out things and places that we would have to know, like where to get the shuttles to the natatorium we would be practicing at and working out at before actually competing there. At check in we were all issued Suica Cards which was sort of like a debit card from the banks, only this card was used to pay regular bus fares, train fares, and convenience store purchases. These cards could be topped off by making a further deposit on them. It appeared our host country was making it a bit easier for us to see at least a part of their city and countryside.

It would be a few more days before our family and friends arrived, but between twice-daily workouts with our diving team and wandering around the Olympic village with Greg, who had some very constructive hints about our dives, and/or with one of our assistant coaches, Jake Osborne, who was someone we liked and Greg trusted, we really didn't have much time for anything else. There was a convenience store in the village and there were plenty of Olympic memorabilia for sale there that we were assured were not available anywhere else, so we did spend a bit of time there picking out souvenirs and gifts for those still at home, even if they were arriving themselves in a couple of days.

Our selected dives were becoming second nature to us, but Coach kept them alternating so we wouldn't become complacent and begin doing them by rote, and be likely to make errors, thus losing percentages of points, or full points which would make it harder to gain a step on the medal podium. The more we saw the rest of our team practice, and the couple of times we were allowed to watch other divers practice, we gradually began to see that we might just have a chance of placing in the final five to go for a medal. We weren't being cocky or overconfident, we were looking at this all reasonably and also with a doubting eye, but the truth was we were younger, much more flexible than most of the other divers, as lean and built as they were, we both had had a lot of exercising to do to get our limbs to work again and by being "together" during the therapy sessions and all our workouts after, we realized that Theresa had not let us bulk up like muscle boys, but had given us exercises to do that let our limbs strengthen without losing our flexibility.                                                         `                                               The only real places we built up more strength than a normal teen was our biceps and forearms, which allowed us to lift ourselves off the edge of a platform high enough and far enough away to gain height and not be close enough to hit the edge of the platform on the way down again, the same with our thigh and calf muscles. This was all lean muscle, not big bulging mass and this was what had thrown off our competitors in our division and state competitions. We looked like a pair of well put together lean teens, not some muscle-bound gorillas.

We were called to the lobby of the natatorium (swimming and diving building) on our third day and when Jake escorted us there our family and friends were there, having flown in and already checked into their hotel, just on the other side of the road from where we were now. We had a great reunion and then Jake tapped his watch and we had to return to the practice session, agreeing to meet up for dinner later on. There were the seven in our combined family, Terry and Jason, Tony and Jerry from the Swim Center, Phil and Ken, and unknown to us before, Dr. Chris and Noah! Ingrid had been asked, but she just couldn't make it, but told Ian to make sure we knew she would be with us in spirit as she tried to watch us on TV. Jake was invited to join us for dinner and that way we would have an escort to their hotel which had an American style restaurant, Jake was pleased to accept, and he did make arrangements for all our friends and family to watch a practice session for a few hours the next afternoon. The day after tomorrow our 3-meter competitions would begin.

Dinner was fantastic. It was so great to be able to hug our dads and brothers, which turned into hugs for all at the big table set aside for our group. Everyone wanted to know how everything was going so far and we related that besides practicing or exercising and taking some walks around the Olympic Village there really wasn't anything we had been doing, with the exception of eating in one of the Village's several cafeterias for our meals or shopping in the convenience store, or sleeping about ten hours a night. Terry and Jason were so excited to be here, as were the young boys and it was fun and almost relaxing to spend a lot of our evening with them, but there was a curfew at our dorm so with a private goodnight to each we bid them goodnight and we made our way, with Jake's help, back to the Village for a good night's sleep, after we made sure we were both well and truly relaxed.

Just a few days later, the competitions began for the men and the 10-meter synchronized dives was the first event for the male divers on July 27th. In the morning we began the preliminary rounds for the synchronized men's 10-meter diving and in the afternoon,  there would be the final.  It was done much as our school and state championships were and we easily made it through our allotted number of dives in each round, saving some of our highest scoring dives for the afternoon final, with advice from both Coach and Greg on which dives should be announced, as you couldn't change your mind once the list of your dives was in the hands of the judges, of which on the synchronized dives there were two groups, one group judged the overall dive and one judged the synchronization of the two divers.

Once the competitors were narrowed down to the final 5 pairs our dive selections were turned in and because of our age we had decided to go full steam ahead and go for all high score and high difficulty dives. No one who had seen us perform these during most of our practice sessions had any doubt in our ability, and being the one pair of our team to reach the final, we were encouraged to go for it. On the first of our three, we did the side by side cannonball, but we had handwritten in an extra spin, which was our usual 4, not just the required three. We earned a 9.98 out of 10 for that one, the second was a backward dismount from the platform, a 9.99, and the third was the same dive, but the dismount was from our hands, not our feet, and the score was like three times as long to be posted on the scoreboard, the spectators were yelling for a ten, and that is what we were awarded.

We had won a gold medal! It was a heady moment when that finally sunk in a few minutes later as we were rinsing off. We could hear yelling from the stands, almost a chant of sorts, "Josh and Max", over and over again. Since we were the last of the pairs of divers that evening and it was getting late and we had the preliminary dives for the Men's Synchronized 3-meter springboard the next morning we were told all the synchronized diving medals would be presented on the morning of July 30th, as there were no diving competitions that day.

The mood in the locker room was a strange one for us, usually, there was a great celebration in a locker room after a team win, but this was a team made up of individual diving pairs. Greg was with us the whole time and Coach and some of the individual divers were trying to make this a special experience for all, but the mood was just a bit tense, until Josh nudged me and we synced once more and we stood on the bench in front of our lockers and addressed our teammates, the two pairs of divers, we had just competed against.

Josh started off, telling the now hushed group that we didn't understand what exactly was going on, but there were a few things we had observed. I spoke up and asked Paul and Ryan why they had only done low point dives, they had certainly practiced harder dives and had executed them well, what were they saving those dives for, the next Olympics? Josh spoke up and asked Chuck and Pedro what happened out there? They were even more impressive than us in body and size, couldn't they decide on a few impressive dives to bring their scoring up? Chuck spat out that Pedro had unnerved him when he had come out to him the night before. I asked if Pedro had confessed a secret love for him and he hung his head and mumbled no, he hadn't, and that was what had thrown his diving off, he was crushed that Pedro hadn't confessed a love for him. Of course, Pedro was crying by now and sputtered that he had thought Chuck was totally straight. The two embraced and there was a round of applause after that for the two who it took defeat to bring them together.

So, a small part of our victory, at least over our own teammates, was because they couldn't communicate with each other, something Josh and I had never had a problem with from day one. There were then rounds of congratulations all around to us and we told both pairs of synchronized divers that we expected a much higher level of competition from them the next day during the 3-meter dives. The mood lightened and we three sets of synchro divers put our heads together and worked out a strategy for the next round of competitions and with the assistance of Coach and checking this all with Greg, we had a plan.

We rushed through our showers and dressed nice because we were going to dinner with our family again and we were excited. We had a great time with them all and although our brothers wanted to see our medals, the others knew we had to wait until after the 3-meter competition was over in two days. We all had a great time, but soon it was getting close to our curfew and Josh and I were escorted back to the Village by our chaperon.

We did our own relaxing once in our room and we had a good night's rest before waking and getting ready for the 3 meter trials for the synchronized diving. This obviously was a much shorter distance to the water, so elaborate rolls and spins were out, but we had youth and a smaller frame on our side and we were able to add a couple of twists and turns into our routines which caught the judges eyes and we again were in the top five pairs of divers the next afternoon and this time all three of the pairs from the USA were representing in the final rounds of dives, three dives for each pair to perform.  Chuck and Pedro apparently did some bonding at night because they were right up there in their scores and it was amazing how we three pairs got along during the finals and it came as no surprise to us as they, Chuck and Pedro took the gold, Josh and I the silver, and Paul and Ryan took the bronze. The USA team had swept the field in the 3-meter synchro men's diving!!!

The mood on deck and in the locker, room was decidedly different that night, with the medal ceremony for the pairs diving taking place in the morning, the individual diving competitions for the men starting on August 3rd.  The medals were awarded in the order of their being earned, so the ladies went first and then the men. Since the ten-meter synchro diving was our first competition, Josh and I shared the top step of the podium to receive our gold medals, and I guess we had a few fans there because the applause after our national anthem was played was thunderous.

It's embarrassing to say, but we both had tears running down our cheeks after that, and then we sat through the presentation for the next group of presentations, and when we were all called up for the medals to be presented for the 3 meter medals, Chuck and Pedro were on the top step and Josh and I on the second place tier and Paul and Ryan were on the bronze medal tier. The gold was presented to Chuck and Pedro and then the silver to Josh and me and of course, the bronze to Paul and Ryan and again during the national anthem the tears flowed and Josh and I hugged each other and we saw then that Chuck and Pedro were kissing and Paul and Ryan, our two straight guys, were hugging as well and, remembering Greg's warning about showing too much PDA in public, we settled for another hug, whispering 'I love you's' to each other as we did. There was massive clapping and cheering going on and when we left the podium we were swamped by our team, the assistant coaches, and Greg and Coach, and then we were all taken to a section reserved for families where we were reunited with our group and we were introduced to the other two pair's folks as well.

Coach and his assistants were over the moon and so was Greg, I don't think we'd ever seen him so happy. It was when one of the other guys' fathers started to really go on and on about Coach turning the other two sets of synchro divers around and getting them focused that Coach asked for silence in our meeting room. He then proceeded to tell all our visitors that he and his assistants knew all about the dives we did and how technical we had to be to gain extra points and they all knew what the dive was supposed to look like, but what had truly motivated the two pair of older divers was Josh and Max, that we had already won our gold and we went to the locker room and told the guys some hard truths, and made them think, and that what happened in our final competition was a direct result of that so called pep talk in the locker room. The other pairs backed him up loudly and from then on it was a fun, but short party as all the different groups split up, but not before the two older pairs of divers thanked us for "waking them up", and bestowing hugs on us.

Three days later began the individual competitions in diving for the men and it began on the 3-meter springboard. The springboard allowed some added height to our exits from the board and allowed those who had trained and practiced the opportunity to excel, and excel we did again. It was like we had been born to do this. To be able to prove to ourselves and the world that there was hope for the seriously injured, as long as not only the medical team, but you yourself, explored all the options out there that could be applied to you. I don't know if it was a fluke, or chance, that enabled Josh to overcome his circumstances, but I was just so darn proud of him as we stood on the podium again and he accepted another silver medal and I did reach down from the top tier to give him a big hug of congratulations and of love, because I knew he was only one tenth of a point behind me in the scoring and for the life of me I couldn't think of how he had performed in his final dive to make it so close in score, in a way to assure me winning, but he did, I just knew it.

Three days later we were again competing at the 10 meter platform, and with Josh ahead of the five finalists, me included, I edged out the other three divers in the final heat and assured Josh's chance at gold by letting one foot go loose as I approached the water, creating a bit, a tiny bit, of a splash as I entered the water. I desperately wanted that silver if Josh was going to get the gold and I whooped as my final score put me ahead of the other three divers with only Josh to dive one final time in this competition here at the Olympics. We had agreed before the heats started to go for the gold, no ifs ands or buts, because we would age, we would grow, and truthfully this might be the last time we would even be able to participate in an Olympic game.

We found a second or two to do our mental syncing and to whisper I Love You's to each other before he went up to the top platform and executed what must have looked to everyone else as a perfect dive, a flip, spin and a revolution before entering the water in a perfectly upright position, but I noticed his right foot lost it's rigidity as he entered the water and apparently some of the judges did also. There was quite a wait for his score to be posted, but that, and his standing eventually was, and they broke president and awarded both of us gold, with equal scores for the both of us, and there would be a single second place and a single third place, the judges felt we had tied for first place, and unusually, it was a unanimous decision. Even the spectators agreed wholeheartedly once the big screen posted the final scores and standings.

To say our first attempt at the grown-up world of the Olympics went well was an understatement. It was really beyond belief. The mood in the divers' locker room was jubilant to say the least, Coach gave us a champagne shower with the other guys spraying us with bottles of the bubbly as well and they formed an honor guard as they escorted us, once showered and clean and dressed in our cleanest warm up suits, to the podium to receive our newest medals. We stood at the top of the podium for the last time of these Olympic games, side by side, our hands occasionally brushing against each other's, our hearts almost escaping our bodies as our National Anthem was played once again and our medals hanging against our chests, temporarily keeping our hearts in place.

We were still watery eyed as we got to gather with our family and friends after the ceremony and our four dads couldn't have been prouder. Greg and his husband insisted we all dine together, as this was our families last night in Japan, so we all dined at the hotel and we were admonished before the night was over to behave ourselves for the two more days before our team was flown home, actually to the international airport in Los Angeles, California, where Greg and Johnny would make sure we were placed on an overnight flight for Hartford, Connecticut, where we would be picked up and driven to our home the next morning.

The only interaction we had been allowed with our family and friends was these dinners and we always had a chaperon with us. It wouldn't be practical for us to have asked if, say, Terry and Jason could stay and see the closing ceremony with us, but we were told that since we were both multiple medal winners we would be expected to participate in the "march of nations" where each country's teams marched around the stadium before the closing show began, similar to the opening ceremony the night before our competitions began, which we were too tired to appreciate. We had to say our goodbyes there at the hotel and then we were escorted back to our room at the Village. The excitement of the day gave us enough strength to show each other just how much we did love each other before sleep overcame us.


Comments appreciated at Art West