Sunday, July 3, 2011

Handling the Hardware

The team spent today at the Awards Ceremony, a somewhat bizarre 4-hour parade of bronze, silver, and gold medals from each of the levels in 5-on-5, 7-on-7, and 11-on-11 soccer. The whole event lasted over six hours!
Team USA enthusiastically waiting to get their medals...along with a few hundred others
Unfortunately, the number of medals that had to be distributed meant that some of the anticipated pomp was missing: no flag raising and no national anthem. But the guys still looked great on the podium!

Then it was time to take pictures with the hard-earned hardware:
The obligatory photo with Special Olympics officials
An artistic picture of gold...courtesy of Connie Thompson
A close-up of the medal
Coach Ken with goalkeeper Alan Hill and his medal...coaches don't get medals, so this is as close as Ken will get!
In the evening, the guys repaid the gymnastics team for their incredible support at the gold medal match by visiting their "gym show," their closing event, which included performances by medal winners, including these Americans!
Lee Shannon finished her beam routine with a back-handspring dismount! Then she acknowledged the standing ovation!
Several rhythmic teams, including the Greek National Team, performed as well
In fact, these games have been remarkably successful for Team USA, and not just in soccer. USA won gold in EVERY team sport we entered: Basketball, Softball, Soccer, and Volleyball. Way to go USA!

Tomorrow, the team will head to the beach resort of Glyfada in the morning, before returning to the hotel to prepare for the closing ceremonies. It's been an epic two-week extravaganza, nine months of concentrated training, and nine years of playing together, and only a massive party with 7,000 other athletes from over 100 countries would be appropriate.

Please be sure to check the Extra Photos page for more pics from last night's victory celebration!
How could we leave out Alan Hill's celebratory plunge!

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