Tales from Tokyo: Part 3
by Liz Podominick, USA Boxing High Performance Manager
It has been a while! The Miyazaki Acclimation Camp has ended and with it, some more updates to send to all of you back home. I know I can forget that when days are routine, it is important to grasp and acknowledge some of the happy moments. They remind us of why we make some of the sacrifices and the family we have created while on the road all these years.
One of the most joyful pieces of news came last week when we received official word that Yarisel Ramirez qualified for the Olympic Games! Yarisel came into camp knowing the chances were slim, but she put her head down and did the hard work. It paid off and to see the team’s reaction, check out USA Boxing’s IG here and can see the full story here. Matt really set it up well😊 We now have 10 individuals qualified for the Olympic Games and placed a woman in all 5 weight classes!
Now, my next 2 joyful moments involve food, which is ironic for a weight-based sport. In my defense, the days do become routine and often revolve around the meal and training schedule. However, we had 2 special meals that would stand out regardless of being in a camp anywhere in the world. In a normal acclimation camp leading up to an Olympic Games, the Host City would usually bring the teams around to places around the city for media opportunities, public relations and interactions with the local community. Obviously, that was not an option this go around, but Miyazaki had a great COVID-19 friendly way to try to engage the community with us and us with them. One of the local high schools, Nisho Gakuen High School, had their culinary students prepare a menu of local dishes for all camp participants. We got to see a video of them making the dishes in their classroom kitchen and wish us good luck. They also got to see our reactions later of eating the food and made the local news. The students were so thoughtful in putting the meal together and we are thankful for the Miyazaki Host City for thinking of this way for us to safely interact with the community.
The second meal was a camp BBQ, Miyazaki style. Miyazaki has some of the best beef in the world (some would argue THE best) and we got platefuls of the world-famous beef in open grill and burger style. I am not lying when I probably saw the first and BIGGEST smile on Duke’s face. Jose had tears in his eyes when he finished his burger, both for how amazing it was and that it was gone. The meal was capped off with some delicious mochi ice cream, granola and fruit. Billy was elated to have some sugar, lol. The thunderstorm could not stop everyone from having a great time and filling their plates. Weight might have been a bit high the next morning, but it was well worth it.
The last bit of happy news is we are all in Tokyo now! All of Friday a heavy thunderstorm raged in Miyazaki and I have never seen so much lightning at night. Tiger was a little concerned about taking off the next day, but thankfully the rain cleared up and we were able to fly out of Miyazaki early Saturday morning. We arrived at the Haneda airport around 9:40 a.m. and had the bittersweet moment of being separated into our different groups. The boxers, Billy, Matt and Jose went to the Olympic Village; Jeff, Guz, Kevin, and Taylor to the Shiomi Prince Hotel; and Tim, Marc, Christine, and myself to the Tobu Levant Hotel near the training venue. Some of you might be wondering why we are all in different places and it has to do with accreditation type and space. The Olympic Village will house 10,000+ athletes, coaches, and staff during the Olympic Games, so space is limited. We only got allotted 3 beds in the Village for accredited staff. Our other accredited staff went to Shiomi Prince Hotel, which is considered an official housing location for those with access to the competition venue and Olympic Village. Unfortunately, they have to commute about 30 minutes by bus to get there, but still are able to eat at the dining hall and access all the Village amenities. For those of us at the Tobu Levant Hotel, we only have access to the training venue. Each country is allotted a certain amount of credentials and the USOPC then has to split them amongst all the sports participating for Team USA. We were very lucky to get the number we did, and it was all due to our medal potential and Matt/Team V advocating for us. Chris went back home to the U.S. and had the unfortunate experience of a cancelled flight, a delayed flight and a night spent at the Denver airport. He is officially home now and I know happy to have a shower and some good rest. We miss him already!
All of us still in Tokyo were all reunited this weekend at training, the first at the official training venue, Sumida City Gymnasium. Funny how being apart for less than 48 hours seems so long! There are 8 separate training areas within the venue divided by temporary walls. Each one has some heavy bags, a small ring, treadmill, and a few other training tools. This will be our training home for the next week until the first day of competition starts on July 24th. Since I am not staying in the Olympic Village nor do have access, I will not have the full ‘inside scoop.’ BUT I do have some sources lol and will try my best to keep you all updated on the goings-on during the Games😊
The draw takes place this Thursday, where we will find out when our boxers will fight and their path to Olympic gold! You can stay updated on the draw and other info throughout the event, including the schedule, livestream and results, here.
Until next time!