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Seen and Heard with Team USA

Notes on a bus ride to and from Luzhniki Stadium

Sprint for the bus — Ashton Eaton may have crossed the finish line in the 1500m Sunday night in Luzhniki Stadium, but he ran a vital 50m Monday morning to catch the bus in time to see his new bride compete in the first day of the women’s heptathlon. Brianne Theisen Eaton represents Canada in the heptathlon and competition began at 9:05 a.m. Monday. Eaton’s sprint alongside the 8:30 a.m. bus was his second victory of the championships.

The Russian culture is very time conscious. Schedules are efficiently adhered to basically to the second. When a bus is scheduled to leave on the hour and half hour, they actually leave precisely on the hour and half hour.

The Scenic Route — The bus ride from the Team USA hotel to Luzhniki Stadium is a colorful jaunt beside the Moscow River. Passengers may look out their windows to see barges pushing mounds of gravel up the river or tourists out for their morning runs. Muscovites use bikes, public transportation and an array of luxury cars to make the Monday commute.

Landscaping is an art in the city. Rows of flora adorn nearly every grassy area and parks are groomed like a teenager going on a first date. From diagonal lines of morning glories to the artistic blooms mimicking Basil’s Cathedral, the artistry in Russia’s capitol city is breathtaking.

United Nations — Athletes from every country hop on the coach buses leaving to and from the competition stadium and the practice track. Monday’s ride was a mix of Team USA, the Brits, Aussies, Austrians, and Dutch on the morning bus. Listening to the banter between athletes and coaches, there’s no mistaking this is a global championship. 

Raise a glass – Team USA medalists are greeted at the hotel after competition by their teammates, coaching and medical staffs in a celebratory toast. Sunday night, three athletes — Eaton, Brittney Reese and Justin Gatlin were celebrated for their medals. The tradition of toasting the medalists began at the 2001 World Championships in Edmonton and has been repeated at indoor and outdoor World Championships, as well as the Olympic Games.

A smile so bright — Spectators at Monday’s morning session may have seen Heptathlete Bettie Wade break into a huge grin just before her takeoff in the high jump. Wade smiles as jokes from her favorite comedians such as Tig Notaro run through her head and she will laugh. She uses this method to clear her head so she doesn’t “overthink.”

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